TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Western Taiwan was hit by heavy pollution this morning (March 12), triggering red alerts at 38 weather stations across the country.
On his Facebook page at 6 am Friday, Central Weather Bureau Director-General Cheng Ming-dean (郑明典) warned that winds have come to an almost complete standstill and "air quality in western Taiwan is really bad, avoid outdoor exercise."
According to the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), 38 weather stations flashed a red warning for "unhealthy" air quality in: New Taipei City, Hsinchu County, Miaoli County, Taichung City, Changhua County, Yunlin County, Chiayi County, Tainan City, Kaohsiung City, and Pingtung County. The EPA cautioned that red alerts signify the air quality is "unhealthy" for all groups and advised residents in those areas to avoid outdoor activities.
Polluted Kaohsiung skyline. (CNA photo)
The EPA uses a six-color air pollution warning system in which a maroon alert is the most severe, signifying “hazardous” air, followed by purple, red, orange, yellow, and green. According to EPA standards, a red alert runs from 151 to 200 on the Air Quality Index (AQI) scale. AQI levels above 150 are considered “unhealthy for everyone,” and members of sensitive groups may experience adverse effects.
The CWB said that winds were blowing to the east in the early morning in the western half of the country. However, the wind speeds are weak, and "fog" has begun to form.
Due to slow wind speeds and poor horizontal and vertical atmospheric diffusion, conditions are ripe for the accumulation of pollutants. However, the northeasterly seasonal winds are expected to strengthen in the afternoon, helping to disperse pollutants in Hsinchu and Miaoli counties and areas north.
As central and southern Taiwan will be leeward from the winds, the diffusion conditions are slightly worse, likely leading to the continued accumulation of pollutants. Meanwhile, photochemical reactions in the afternoon along with a high ozone concentration will worsen air pollution in Kaohsiung and Pingtung.