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Cold air mass brings new wave of pollution: official

2017/12/17 17:17:31

CNA file photo

Taipei, Dec. 17 (CNA) Residents of the offshore islands of Matsu, Kinmen and Penghu were cautioned about the impact of haze on Sunday, while those in parts of southern Taiwan were warned about increased dust emissions along local rivers, as the country faces a cold air mass, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said Sunday.

The arrival of a cold air mass on Saturday brought increased air pollutants, raising the density of PM2.5 particulates (fine particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers) across northern Taiwan. However, air pollution on Taiwan proper improved Sunday morning.

Air quality was poor in Yunlin, Chiayi, Tainan, Kaohsiung and Pingtung on Saturday due to the impact of increased dust emissions along rivers in those areas caused by high winds brought by the cold wave, according to Chang Shun-chin (張順欽), director of the EPA's Department of Environmental Monitoring and Information Management.

As wind speeds slowed down late on Sunday, the impact on pollution also fell, Chang said, adding that despite the improvement residents should still take precautionary measures to minimize the potential effects of river dust emissions due to the continued influence of the cold air mass.

The EPA said it will provide local governments with real-time air quality forecast information, urging them to take precautionary measures if the Air Quality Index (AQI) flashes orange, meaning it is "unhealthy" for sensitive groups.

The EPA is also coordinating with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Taiwan Power Co. to ask local power generating plants to reduce output if air pollution reaches hazardous levels in those localities. Meanwhile, relevant government agencies have also taken measures to reduce air pollution and the damage that it causes.

According to the Central Weather Bureau, a new wave of stronger and drier cold air will reach Taiwan on Wednesday and is expected to bring the mercury down to 11 degrees in flat coastal areas.

(By Wu Hsin-yun and Evelyn Kao)