Mon, Mar 18, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Taichung air pollution ‘a crisis’

SEVEN DISTRICTS:People who live near the Taichung Power Plant, Dragon Steel Corp or the Central Taiwan Science Park are exposed to eight carcinogenic pollutants

By Tsai Shu-yuan  /  Staff reporter

A map shows PM2.5 levels across Taiwan on Thursday.

Photo: CNA

Taichung residents in seven districts are being exposed to higher concentrations of eight first-level carcinogenic air pollutants, and the government should be treating the city’s pollution as a national security crisis, an academic told a public hearing on Saturday.

The hearing held by the Taichung Environmental Protection Bureau at Chung Shan Medical University focused on the bureau’s latest report on the city’s air pollution and its effect on health.

People living in districts near the state-run Taichung Power Plant, which has 10 coal-fired units and four oil-fired units, the Dragon Steel Corp plant and the Central Taiwan Science Park are exposed to eight first-level airborne carcinogenic pollutants, including arsenic, dioxin, cadmium and nickel, said Liaw Yung-po (廖勇柏), a professor at the university.

The concentrations of carcinogenic pollutants are higher in Longjing (龍井), Situn (西屯), Dadu (大肚), Daya (大雅), Cingshuei (清水), Houli (后里) and Wuci (梧棲) than the city’s other districts, Liaw said his research had found.

People who inhale such pollutants, regardless of the amount, face certain health risks, Liaw said.

The concentrations of the pollutants are related to the level of PM2.5 — fine particulate matter measuring 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, he said.

The air pollutants interact with other environmental factors as well as viruses, and pose a greater danger to pregnant women, the elderly and children, he added.

The government must tackle the pollution problem by monitoring the first-level carcinogenic pollutants and work to curtail or eliminate their concentrations in the air, Liaw added.

The government should allocate more funding to research on diseases caused by air pollution, said Shang Chun-hsi (尚君璽), an assistant professor at Tunghai University.

Taichung-based physician Lai Yi-chun (賴怡均) called on environmental authorities not to “beautify” air pollution data, so that people can be aware of the dangers.

The bureau’s report proves that the city’s air pollution is related to the power station and the steel plant, and the government should force them to reduce their emissions, Homemakers United Foundation member Hsu Hsin-hsin (許心欣) said.

The bureau said it would take into account the opinions as it works to improve its pollution control efforts, adding that three other public hearings would be held later this month.

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