China is single largest source of PM2.5 pollution in Taiwan

China is single largest source of PM2.5 air pollution in Taiwan, not motor vehicles or power plants

Berkeley Earth Air Quality Real-time Map on Jan. 17, 2017.

Berkeley Earth Air Quality Real-time Map on Jan. 17, 2017.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Comparing data on pollution sources in Taiwan's air, a Taiwanese professor and former Bell Labs researcher has come to the conclusion that the single largest source of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the country's air is not from vehicle exhaust or power plant smokestacks, but rather China.

Lance Wu (吳作樂), a professor in the Department of Information Management at Chang Jung Christian University, Director of digital content creation at the National Space Organization, and former researcher at the Bell Labs Satellite Communications Department, in a Taiwan News Chinese language report last week asserted that rather than individual local sources such as motor vehicles and power plants, the largest single source of PM2.5 air pollutants in Taiwan is in fact air blowing in from neighboring China.

Wu demonstrates this fact based in series of charts generated from data provided by Taiwan's Environmental Protection Administration. The first chart below, which gives the median percentage of the origin of PM2.5 in Taiwan, is somewhat deceptive. At first glance, one would conclude that at that at 60 to 66 percent of Taiwan's pollutants produced domestically, while 34 to 40 percent is coming from abroad, that the largest single source is probably be domestic.

However, if that domestic content is broken down by source, it quickly becomes apparent that, the two most commonly identified culprits, transportation and industries, at 21 percent and 18 percent, respectively are far less than the overseas category at 37 percent.

Breaking down domestic PM2.5 sources in Taiwan even further, the much maligned scooters and power plants, actually only account for 3 percent and 5 percent respectively. When broken down by specific sources, Wu points out that it becomes abundantly clear that at 37 percent, the largest single source of PM2.5 in Taiwan by far is air from abroad.

Detailed breakdown of all domestic sources of PM2.5 pollution in Taiwan.

Wu concludes that of the air pollution coming from abroad, the overwhelming majority is coming from China, due to its proximity and the fact that Taiwan is downwind of the communist country. To hammer this point home, Wu includes a screenshot from the Berkeley Earth Air Quality Real-time Map, which consistently shows air quality over many parts of China at the worst rating of "Hazardous" in dark brown.

Berkeley Earth Air Quality Real-time Map.