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Dirty skies dull duck's days in Kaohsiung

Giant rubber duck used to call attention to poor air quality

Rubber Duck floats in Kaohsiung Harbor against hazy skies. (CNA photo)

Rubber Duck floats in Kaohsiung Harbor against hazy skies. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An environmental advocacy group has used the appearance of giant rubber ducks in Kaohsiung’s Love Bay to highlight the city’s poor air quality.

The Kaohsiung group Citizen of the Earth Taiwan said on Tuesday (Feb. 6) that the city has experienced poor air quality for nearly all of the ten days since the Jan. 27 debut of “Rubber Duck,” designed by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman.

“As of Feb. 5, the number of visitors to Love Bay exceeded 2 million, bringing vitality and considerable economic benefits to the city,” the group said in a press release. However, it said that the frequent poor air quality posed a health risk to visitors attending the exhibition.

The group called on the Environmental Protection Bureau to suspend highly polluting production processes temporarily and asked the government to make pollution statistics for certain large factories publicly available. The group said air quality standards should be revised as soon as possible, and restrictions should increase.

The group noted data from Kaohsiung’s environmental bureau, which showed orange-level air quality warnings for eight of the 10 days the ducks had been in the harbor. Orange warnings indicate the air quality may cause health problems for sensitive groups, including those with heart and cardiovascular problems.

An orange warning also advises children, teenagers, and older adults to reduce physical exertion and outdoor activities, according to the weather bureau.

The Citizen of the Earth group also noted that some monitoring stations recorded “unhealthy” air quality levels, which the weather bureau said may cause negative health effects for all individuals. When a red warning is issued, members of the public are advised to wear masks when outdoors.