Spike in air pollution from overseas to hit Taiwan ahead of election day

Pollutants originating in China headed for Taiwan, EPA urges public to avoid prolonged exposure outdoors

File Photo: Smoggy skies in Kaohsiung

File Photo: Smoggy skies in Kaohsiung (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Along with the forecast that temperatures will drop with the arrival of the northeastern monsoon this week, Thursday, Nov. 22 will also mark an increase in airborne pollutants from overseas, says the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA).

The EPA urges the public to pay attention to air quality, and for those with respiratory issues to avoid too much time outdoors in areas with high air pollution.

High levels of PM2.5 pollutants, between 40 and 80 micrograms (mg) per cubic meter are expected to arrive in Taiwan tomorrow.

An EPA official quoted by Liberty Times said the particulate matter mostly originates from industrial areas in China around Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei, where PM2.5 pollutants are as high as 180 to 200 mg per cubic meter.

The EPA forecasts that the highest levels of air pollution will affect Taipei and surrounding areas. A Red air alert may be issued for the northern half of the country.

In the morning hours, northern Taiwan can expected a rate of 40 to 60 mg per cubic meter, which may increase to 60 or 70 mg by the afternoon.

Central and southern Taiwan will be affected by slightly lower levels of air pollutants by the afternoon of Nov. 22, but may still see lingering effects through Friday, Nov. 23. The EPA is forecasting an Orange air alert for Tainan, Yunlin, Chiayi, Kaohsiung, and Pingtung.

The government urges those who are unhealthy or who suffer from health issues to monitor air quality and avoid prolonged exposure outdoors over the next two days.

U.S. researchers this week reported that air pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels has shortened the average life expectancy across the world by 1.8 years, making air pollution deadlier than smoking.