Taoyuan’s Jhongli District (中壢) last year had the most acidic rain of all municipalities and counties across Taiwan, a study commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showed.
Rainfall collected in the district had an average pH level of 5.02, with more than half of the samples having a pH level of under 5, which is considered “acidic” for rainwater, the study showed.
“Clean rain” is generally considered to have a pH level of about 5.6.
The EPA commissioned National Central University’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences to record and analyze rain acidity throughout Taiwan proper January to December last year.
The research team collected 1,276 samples from 14 stations throughout Taiwan, of which 74 percent, or 946 samples, were usable, it said.
Overall, 18 percent of the samples were acidic, but the ratio was 59 percent for the samples collected in Jhongli, the study showed.
Hsinchu City also had high levels of acid rain, with 45 percent of samples collected there being acidic, it showed.
None of the samples collected in Yunlin County were acidic, while the ratio was 20 percent for Kaohsiung and about 9 percent for those collected along the east coast of Taiwan, the study showed.
Overall, the samples collected across Taiwan had an average pH level of 5.73, it showed.
Samples collected by stations in northern Taiwan had pH levels ranging from 5.02 to 5.56, those in central Taiwan from 5.88 to 6.33, and those in southern Taiwan from 5.56 to 6.09, the study showed.
Although the level of acidity in Jhongli last year was somewhat high, average rainwater acidity across Taiwan has improved from 1991 to 2018, it said.
For example, in 1991, 88 percent of rainwater samples taken in Taipei were acidic, while the percentage had fallen to 41 percent in 2018, the study said.
The acidity of rainwater collected by the Anbu weather station in Taipei’s Beitou District (北投) fell from 84 percent in 2004 to 41 percent in 2018, it showed.
Other parts of Taiwan saw more dramatic declines over the period, such as a drop from 66 percent to 3 percent in Taichung, 72 percent to 21 percent in Kaohsiung, and from 56 percent to 11 percent in Taitung County’s Chenggong Township (成功), the study said.
A measurement taken in Jhongli on Feb. 3, 2018, showed a pH level of 3.79, the study said.
At this level of acidity people are advised to stay out of the rain, the EPA said.
Lin Neng-huei (林能暉), a professor of atmospheric sciences at National Central University, on Saturday said that acid rain was mostly caused by sulfate ions and nitrate ions, which are often blown toward Taiwan from neighboring countries during fall and winter.
Policies over the past few decades have helped curb some of the local sources of air pollution, which resulted in lower rainwater acidity across Taiwan, Lin said.
However, identifying and relocating remaining sources of air pollution in northern Taiwan could help further lower the levels, he said.
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