Air quality remains poor in southern Taiwan after sandstorm

The largest sandstorm to hit Taiwan in five years dissipated on Sunday, but air quality remained poor

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Kaohsiung port seen through the haze from Tuntex Skytower (Image from Flickr user Kevin)

Kaohsiung port seen through the haze from Tuntex Skytower (Image from Flickr user Kevin)

TAIPEI (CNA) -- The largest sandstorm to sweep across Taiwan in five years gradually dissipated on Sunday, but the air quality in Kaohsiung and Pingtung in the south remained poor as the condition was not right for dispersing atmospheric pollutants there, according to the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA).

As of 12 a.m. Sunday, the EPA's Air Quality Index (AQI) flashed an orange warning, indicating unhealthy air for sensitive groups, at 10 stations in Kaohsiung and Pingtung and one station in the outlying island county of Kinmen, according to the EPA's Taiwan Air Quality Monitoring Network.

Air quality was rated as either good or fair in the rest of Taiwan, the monitoring data showed.

With the high number of monitoring stations flashing orange alerts in the southern parts of the country, Taipower reduced power generation at the coal-fired Hsinta Power Plant in Kaohsiung to cut air pollution emissions, according to the EPA.

The EPA's AQI takes into account ozone, PM2.5 and PM10 particulates, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitric oxide concentrations in the air.

On Saturday, air quality ranged from fair to unhealthy across the country due to the effects of a large sandstorm that developed in Gansu Province in northwestern China earlier that week, according to the EPA.

Although air quality in most areas of Taiwan improved on Sunday, it remained poor in parts of western Taiwan due to the lack of wind to disperse atmospheric pollutants, the EPA said.