Air pollution reaches frightening levels in central and southern Taiwan

Pictures show a dense smog imposing on urban areas


Pollution in Tainan (Image from Facebook user Li-hui Chiu 邱莉惠)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Frightening levels of air pollution have been captured on camera by residents of Tainan City (台南) in southern Taiwan today.

Smoggy skies loom over much of Taiwan’s west coast, with conditions reaching dangerous levels in Tainan and Chiayi (嘉義). An air quality index report from the Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) Air Quality Monitoring Network shows that several areas in the west of the island have reached the “red zone”, indicating unhealthy air quality.

Map shows areas of Taiwan in the "red zone" as of 9 a.m. today (Image from EPA website)

PM2.5 hourly concentration in Tainan is currently over 100 micrograms per cubic meter. Citizens in affected areas are advised to limit prolonged outdoor exertion, and sensitive groups including children and those with respiratory conditions should take extra care.

According to reports, online commentators have described the need to escape from the “poisonous gas clouds” pervading urban areas. Tainan Environmental Protection Bureau has issued an emergency air pollution notice and begun to launch emergency response measures.

Image by Facebook user Qiu Wan Ya (邱琬雅)

The EPA has been reporting high PM2.5 concentrations around central and southern parts of the island since yesterday, marking the most serious levels of air pollution Taiwan has experienced since the fall season began.

Tainan’s Environmental Protection Bureau said this morning that low nighttime temperatures have induced radiative cooling which has generated a dense fog. The water vapor from the fog has combined with dust and dirt particles in the air to produce the thick layer of smog that currently looms over the city.

Image by Facebook user Qiu Wan Ya (邱琬雅)

Pollutants have gradually moved from central Taiwan further south overnight. At 10 p.m. last night, southern cities began to launch emergency responses. Street-cleaning vehicles were dispatched, and factories directed to control emissions.

The EPA said current atmospheric conditions are not favorable to maintaining healthier air. As northeasterly winds begin to pick up on Friday morning (Nov. 9), the situation will significantly improve.