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Doctors urge air pollution law as poor air quality persists

Doctors urge air pollution law as poor air quality persists

Over 10 doctors from around Taiwan gathered in Taipei on Sunday to urge the government to tackle the growing air pollution problem that is threatening public health.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has already classified outdoor air pollution as a cancer-causing agent, but Taiwan's government and political candidates have not paid much attention to the problem, forcing doctors to speak up, said participants at a press conference.

Speaking at an event organized by the Changhua Medical Alliance for Public Affairs and Changhua Environmental Protection Union, doctors urged the government to follow in the footsteps of the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer and introduce policies to fight air pollution and cancer.

They also urged the government to levy an air pollution tax and improve laws to criminalize air pollution violations.

Lee Wu-po, a doctor and a managing supervisor with the Changhua Medical Alliance for Public Affairs, said only 15 people out of every 100,000 in Taiwan were diagnosed with lung cancer 30 years ago.

By 2011, however, the incidence of lung cancer had risen 2.3 times while Taiwan's population had only increased by 28 percent, Lee said.

Lung cancer patients had increased 1.4 times in Taipei, 3.9 times in Hualien and 3.6 times in Yunlin by 2011, and in 2014, a total of 9,167 people died of lung cancer in Taiwan, Lee noted.

The issue of air pollution is no longer just an environmental issue, but a medical and political issue, Lee said. He said politicians and businesses should not "sell out" or wreak havoc on people's health just to make money, and urged the government to improve the Air Pollution Control Act and cancer prevention laws.

Poor air quality has plagued areas in Taiwan, especially in central and southern Taiwan, where PM2.5 levels have reached hazardous levels.

The PM2.5 index is defined as air pollution that contains fine particles smaller than 2.5 millimeters in diameter and is linked to several chronic health problems.

Updated : 2021-09-22 16:37 GMT+08:00