Fri, Jul 12, 2019 - Page 2 News List

EPA defends pollutant standards

EXPECTATION VS REALITY:Groups called on the agency to follow WHO standards for PM2.5, but Hsieh Ping-hui said that its current goal is proving hard enough to reach

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Department of Air Quality Protection and Noise Control Deputy Director-General Hsieh Ping-hui speaks at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Liu Li-ren, Taipei Times

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday defended its plan to tighten concentration standards for several air pollutants, saying it did not change those governing PM2.5 — particulate matter measuring 2.5 micrometers or smaller — because of feasibility concerns.

The agency in May announced draft amendments to the Standards of Air Quality (空氣品質標準) and held three public hearings in Kaohsiung, Taipei and Taichung to gather opinions.

The new benchmarks were proposed to further improve the nation’s air quality after major amendments to the Air Pollution Control Act (空氣污染防制法) were promulgated in August last year, Department of Air Quality Protection and Noise Control Deputy Director-General Hsieh Ping-hui (謝炳輝) told a news conference in Taipei.

The daily average PM10 concentration standard would be tightened from 125 micrograms per cubic meter (mcg/m3) to 100mcg/m3, while the yearly concentration standard would be changed from 65mcg/m3 to 50mcg/m3, the agency said.

The standard for regulating the hourly average concentration of sulfur dioxide would be tightened from 0.25 parts per million (ppm) to 0.075ppm, while the yearly average would be changed from 0.03ppm to 0.02ppm, it said.

The hourly standard for nitrogen dioxide levels would be tightened from 0.1ppm to 0.25ppm, and the yearly average from 0.05ppm to 0.03ppm, the agency said.

Its existing standard for lead is a monthly average of 1mcg/m3, which would be lowered to a three-month average of 0.15mcg/m3, it said.

The PM2.5 standards — a yearly average of 15mcg/m3 and a daily average of 35mcg/m3 — would remain the same, it said.

The agency should follow WHO standards and set the yearly average concentration of PM2.5 at 10mcg/m3, Air Clean Taiwan chairman Yeh Guang-perng (葉光芃) said on Wednesday.

The agency should also establish standards for dioxin and heavy metals that pose carcinogenic risks to humans, Hsu Hsin-hsin (許欣欣), a member of the Taichung branch of the Homemakers’ United Foundation, said on the same day.

The EPA understands the expectation for better air quality, but tends to adopt more practical goals, especially as meeting its current goals is already challenging, Hsieh said yesterday.

Last year, the yearly average concentration of PM2.5 was 17.5mcg/m3, which was better than previous years, but has not yet reached the agency’s goal of 15mcg/m3, he said.

After the new standards come into effect later this year, local municipalities would be required to submit air pollution control plans over a four-year period, Hsieh added.

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