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EPA issues controls on scooters, trucks after 'unhealthy' pollution hits western Taiwan

After 'unhealthy' levels of pollution hit Taiwan, EPA calls for controls on 2-stroke scooters, diesel trucks, and power plants

Air pollution in Kaohsiung.
Polluted day in Kaohsiung.

Air pollution in Kaohsiung. (CNA photo)

Polluted day in Kaohsiung. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- After "unhealthy" levels of air pollution were recorded in many parts of western and central Taiwan today (Nov. 29), Tsai Hung-teh (蔡鴻德), director-general of the EPA's Department of Air Quality Protection and Noise Control called for local governments south of Taichung to issue a level one air quality deterioration alert and authorized local governments to restrict two-stroke scooters and diesel trucks in certain areas as well as lower power plant production, reported CNA.

This morning, many air quality index (AQI) measuring stations in central and southern Taiwan issued red alerts for "unhealthy" levels of air pollution, and by the afternoon many monitoring stations in northern Taiwan, including Hsinchu, Miaoli, and Taoyuan counties, were also registering red, unhealthy concentrations of pollutants in the air.

Tsai today said that this morning he notified all governments south of Taichung to implement level one air quality deterioration alert and to begin to strictly prohibit open burning and at the same time to have large factories to reduce their emissions by 10 to 20 percent.

In addition, Tsai said he embowered local authorities to restrict the operation of two-stroke scooters and old diesel trucks in certain areas. He also notified all educational institutions to notify their students to avoid strenuous exercise over extended periods and to properly close windows and doors in classrooms.

Tsai pointed out that as level red pollution alerts were triggered at monitoring stations in Kaohsiung and Pingtung counties, the EOA required that Taiwan Power Company's (Taipower) Hsinta Power Plant in Kaohsiung reduce its total load by 850 MW between midnight and 7 a.m.

Although the air continued to worsen during the day, because Taiwan's power reserve capacity is only 6.2 percent, and to ensure steady power supply, neither the Hsinta plant nor the Taichung plant were able to reduce their loads today.

Tsai said that the EPA will continue to work with Taipower to reduce power consumption during peak load times to reduce the impact on air quality. As for the state sector, the EPA is coordinating and hoping to adopt the best pollution control equipment and reduce pollution through improvements in efficiency.

EPA issues controls on scooters, trucks after 'unhealthy' pollution hits western Taiwan
Map of air quality in Taiwan on Nov. 29 by EPA.

The EPA uses a six-color air pollution warning system, in which a maroon alert is the highest and most severe warning, which indicates “hazardous” air quality, and is followed by purple, red, orange, yellow, and green alerts.

According to the EPA standards, a code red alert runs from 151 to 200 on the AQI scale. AQI levels above 150 are considered “unhealthy for everyone,” and members of sensitive groups may experience health effects.

The EPA reminds people in the areas reporting level red pollution that if they experience discomfort such as eye pain, coughing or a sore throat, they should reduce physical exertion, especially outdoor activities. Patients with heart, respiratory and cardiovascular disease, children and the elderly should stay indoors and reduce physical exertion. If it is necessary to go outside, it is advisable to wear a protective mask, and people who have asthma may need to increase the frequency of their use of an inhaler.

Although winds carrying smog from China to Taiwan contribute to 30 percent of the nation's air pollution, the remaining 70 percent is from domestic sources such as factories, vehicles, and coal-burning power plants, according to the Taiwan Environmental Information Center.