The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday announced a draft emergency response measure aimed at combating air pollution, which would limit the use of vehicles, prohibit some outdoor events and reduce factory emissions by 40 percent when pollution reaches hazardous levels.
The air pollution emergency response draft act concerns levels of PM2.5 — fine particulate matter under 25 micrometers in diameter.
When PM2.5 density is at an “emergency” level — more than 350 micrograms per cubic meter — local governments should prohibit the use of all vehicles except for public transport or electric vehicles, suspend outdoor leisure activities, sports events and construction work, direct power plants to reduce their output and order factories to reduce emissions by 40 percent, while local governments may choose to cancel classes if deemed necessary, the draft says.
When PM2.5 density is at a “medium” level — more than 250 micrograms per cubic meter — the use of large diesel trucks and two-stroke scooters would be prohibited, schools should halt outdoor activities and factories must reduce emissions by 20 percent, the draft says.
When PM2.5 density is at a “primary” level — more than 150 micrograms per cubic meter — the burning of biomass, paper offerings and firecrackers would be banned, sports events suspended and factories would be instructed to operate with cleaner fuels, the draft says, while regulation of pollution sources and educational campaigns would be initiated when PM2.5 density reaches a “warning” level of 54 micrograms per cubic meter.
However, PM2.5 concentration has not reached “medium” or “emergency” levels since the EPA started monitoring PM2.5 pollutants in 2006, according to EPA statistics.
There have been 16 days when PM2.5 concentrations reached “primary” levels on Taiwan proper since 2006.
EPA Minister Wei Kuo-yen (魏國彥) said that when air pollution spikes dramatically in several municipalities, the central government plans to initiate a regional pollution response measure.
Responding to media queries over whether lowering the power output of large power plants is an effective measure to curb air pollution, Wei said that immobile pollution sources contribute less to spikes in pollution than had previously been thought, as the reduced operation of Taichung Power Plant on Sunday and Monday last week had little effect.
Improved air quality in Nantou, Yunlin and Chiayi counties was due to a change in wind direction, indicating that immobile pollution sources contribute less to accumulation of pollutants than weather patterns, Wei said.
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