Taiwan's EPA sends out first air pollution alert text message

Taiwan's EPA yesterday issued first air pollution alert text message for AQI reading of 211 in Yunlin County

Mailiao Station (left), text alert (right). (Photos from www.epa.gov.tw)

Mailiao Station (left), text alert (right). (Photos from www.epa.gov.tw)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Taiwan's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Saturday (Jan. 26) issued its first air pollution alert text message for an Air Quality Index (AQI) level in excess of 200 in western Taiwan.

According to the EPA's air quality monitoring network, the Yunlin Mailiao Station on Saturday began registering highly polluted air, with the AQI soaring to 211, triggering a purple alert. The EPA issued a text alert for residents living within 20 kilometers of the station, marking the first time that the EPA has issued such a warning.

As a strong continental cold air mass moved into Taiwan, it also carried fine particulate matter from overseas. At 12 p.m. on Saturday, the PM10 level at the monitoring station in Yunlin County's Mailiao Township reached 623, and by 2 p.m. the AQI reached 211, triggering a purple alert for air that is "very unhealthy."

EPA map of Taiwan showing AQI of 207 in Mailiao yesterday.

For the first time, the EPA issued a text alert to people living within 20 kilometers of the station. Most residents of Mailiao Township also received the alert, reported ETtoday.

In response to the purple alert, the central and local government took several steps in an attempt to alleviate the pollution. The Central Region Water Resources Office discharged 368,000 tons of water for use in dissipating dust particles in the air.

The Yunlin County Government dispatched four street cleaners to spray the roads of villages and townships along the Zhuoshui River. The Fire Department dispatched fire trucks to begin spraying exposed beaches, while the Mailiao Township Office dispatched crews to hose down construction sites.

Text alert sent to residents near Mailiao Station. (enews.epa.gov.tw image)

The EPA reminds the public that when it flashes a purple alert for AQI, it indicates that it may have a serious health impact on everyone. Those going outdoors are advised to wear pollution masks, and it is recommened that they reduce the amount of time spent outside.

Air in Mailiao yesterday. (Image from enews.epa.gov.tw)