Taiwan EPA to send air pollution text alerts if AQI exceeds 200

Taiwan EPA to send air pollution text alerts when AQI surpasses 200 by end of month

Taipei skyline on heavily polluted day.

Taipei skyline on heavily polluted day. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday announced that it is testing an air pollution text alert system that will go into effect by the end of this month, however, warnings will only be sent if the air quality index (AQI) exceeds 200.

Early in November, the EPA announced that it was launching a new text alert system which would be activated for air quality monitoring stations if the AQI exceeds 200. Under the new system, residents near these air quality monitoring stations will receive an "air pollution alert" (空汙警報) when the AQI exceeds the set threshold.

EPA Deputy Minister Tsai Hung-teh (蔡鴻德) said that the text alerts are currently being tested and the system should be operational by the end of this month. Tsai said that the AQI threshold for triggering the alert was set at 200 for fear of bothering the public with constant alerts if it had been set at a lower level such as 150, reported UDN.

The agency is taking input from the public on the system and some are criticizing the threshold of 200 as being too high compared to other countries. For example, South Korea sends text warnings if the the AQI exceeds 150.

The EPA said it was implementing the system nationwide, as current alert systems had not been covering all areas and were costly for local jurisdictions. For example, though the Taichung government had a LINE alert message system in place, it was too costly to send mass messages, so out of 10 days which had hazardous air pollution, only three alerts were sent.

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.