The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday said it has been working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on an international project to monitor air quality in Southeast Asia.
Chu Yu-chi (朱雨其), director of the EPA’s Environmental Monitoring and Data Processing Bureau, said the Seven Southeast Asian Studies (7-SEAS) program was organized by NASA and conducted through a collaborative effort by Southeast Asian countries and Taiwan. It aims to boost understanding of the long-distance transportation of air pollution caused by biomass burning.
Utilizing the air quality monitoring equipment of participating nations and establishing monitoring stations in various locations — from Java through the Malay Peninsula and Southeast Asia to Taiwan, the program began in February and continued for about four months, the agency said.
Having participated in the program, Lin Neng-huei (林能暉), a professor of atmospheric sciences at National Central University, said the research team in Taiwan discovered that air pollutants from biomass burning can be influenced by periodic atmospheric changes and transported for long distances at altitudes above 3,000m.
The long-distance transportation of these air pollutants by southwest monsoons can affect air quality on the western plains of Taiwan and on the Hengchun Peninsula (恆春半島) in Pingtung County, he said.
Lin added that for the first time pollutants from Indo-China may be affecting air quality in Taiwan.
More research is required to ascertain whether they pose any health risk.