Nantou County’s Puli Township (埔里) had the highest increase in PM2.5 levels over the past four years, while Kaohsiung’s Zuoying District (左營) had the highest PM2.5 concentration, according to a “yearbook” published yesterday by the Taiwan Healthy Air Action Alliance, chronicling air pollution levels from 2012 to last year.
PM2.5 — fine particulate matter measuring 25 micrometers or less that is small enough to penetrate the deepest parts of lungs — was recognized as one of the Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) air quality indices in 2012.
The alliance analyzed the data from the EPA’s 76 air quality monitoring stations and found that Puli had the highest PM2.5 increase, as the township’s average PM2.5 levels rose from 30 micrograms per cubic meter in 2012 to 35.6 micrograms per cubic meter last year.
Puli was followed by Dongshan Township (冬山) in Yilan, Tucheng District (土城) in New Taipei City, Erlin Township (二林) in Changhua and Linkou District (林口) in New Taipei City, with each having 4.3 micrograms, 4.2 micrograms, 4.1 micrograms and 3.5 micrograms per cubic meter increases in PM2.5 levels respectively.
Kaohsiung was found to have the heaviest concentration of PM2.5 in the air, as the city’s Zuoying (左營), Cianjin (前金), Siaogang (小港) and Cianjhen (前鎮) districts were the top four locations with the highest PM2.5 concentrations in the past three years.
Only four monitoring stations had PM2.5 levels lower than the EPA’s limit of 15 micrograms per cubic meter: one in Yangmingshan National Park in Taipei, one in Kenting National Park in Pingtung County and two in Taitung County.
Many of the EPA’s air monitoring stations have recorded increasing PM2.5 levels despite the EPA’s claim that national PM2.5 levels have decreased by 20 percent since 2008, which suggests that the agency’s PM2.5 control measures should be improved, alliance convener and Changhua Christian Hospital gynecologist Yeh Guang-peng (葉光芃) said.
Kinmen County had a 38.7 percent decrease in PM2.5 levels from 2008 to last year, compared with the 20.3 percent decrease in Taiwan proper. However, 96 percent of Kinmen’s air pollutants come from outside the county, mostly from China, Yeh said, asking why the levels in Taiwan proper saw less improvement than those in Kinmen, which is affected by China.
Yeh said he was hesitant to link the contrast between Kinmen and Taiwan proper to different methods of pollution control measures employed in China and Taiwan, adding that the government should face the domestic pollution issue instead of blaming China for pollution.
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