China haze rides cold air mass to Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan- The Central Weather Bureau (中央氣象局) announced a low temperature warning yesterday, saying that under the influence of a continental cold air mass, the lowest temperatures may reach around 8 degrees Celsius.

In addition to the cold, the continental cold air mass also carries air pollutants from mainland China and is affecting the air quality of Taiwan.

According to the Taiwan Air Quality Monitoring Network (TAQMN), the air quality in Western Taiwan turned "hazardous" yesterday morning and pollutants have continually diffused down into Southern Taiwan.

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) announced a health alert through its website, given that the concentration of fine air particles of PM2.5 had risen to 100 micrograms per cubic meter in the north, which is far higher than the standard of 35 micrograms per cubic meter. Meanwhile, fine air particles of PM10 had also reached 200 micrograms per cubic meter, according to statistics of TAQMN.

The EPA said the fine air particles can cause severe respiratory problems and reminded citizens to avoid strenuous exercises outdoors, as the hazy climate will continue for another one or two days.

EPA official Chang Shun-chin (張順欽) said continental cold air masses have carried air pollutants from mainland China several times since last November, leading to a decline in air quality.

The issue of the mainland's haze has become more serious in recent years, and this winter is the most severe, said Chang.

Various experts of environment and meteorology stated that the government should actively cooperate with Japan and South Korea, as they are also victims of the mainland's haze.

In order to deal with this problem, the EPA is planning to sign a memorandum of cooperation with mainland China. This cross-strait cooperation will focus on reducing air pollution and carbon emissions in mainland China as well as strengthen the warning system in the hopes of enhancing the air quality.

Not only Taiwan but also other places around the world have been effected by the mainland's haze. The New York Times reported on the issue, saying that sometimes westerlies, a powerful global wind, can bring pollutants such as dust and ozone from China to Western America within days, which may lead to a decline in air quality.