Cut air qual­ity in­dices down to 1: ex­perts

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY SUN HSIN- HSUAN

Hav­ing two air qual­ity in­dices may eas­ily cause con­fu­sion, or even lead to panic among the public, and should be re­vised to one, claimed ex­perts at a sem­i­nar yes­ter­day.

The sem­i­nar was hosted by the Con­tem­po­rary Tai­wan Devel­op­ment Foun­da­tion (CTDF,

) and Tai­wan Med­i­cal Al­liance for the Con­trol of Tobacco (TMACT, ).

The CTDF and TMACT in­vited four ex­perts from the U.S. for a sem­i­nar, tar­get­ing PM2.5’s (

) cur­rent im­pact on Tai­wan’s air qual­ity. PM2.5 refers to tiny par­ti­cles made up of chem­i­cal aerosols and solid mat­ter that can pen­e­trate deep in­side the lungs, and af­fect re­s­pi­ra­tory and car­dio­vas­cu­lar health.

At the sem­i­nar yes­ter­day, ex­perts said that Tai­wan’s En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion (EPA, ) has de­vel­oped two air qual­ity in­dices. One was de­vel­oped based on U.S. stan­dards and is named the Pol­lu­tant Stan­dard In­dex ( PSI, ) . The other, called the PM2.5 in­dex, was based on the UK’s Air Qual­ity In­dex.

Ac­cord­ing

to

the CTDF and TMACT, when the two stan­dards are used to­gether, they can con­fuse the public. More­over, they claimed that when us­ing the UK stan­dard, the EPA may be over­stat­ing the poor qual­ity of air con­di­tions, caus­ing un­nec­es­sary public worry.

Tai­wan Air Qual­ity Closer Match

to the UK’s: EPA

The EPA re­sponded that an air qual­ity in­dex is a method used by gov­ern­ment agen­cies to com­mu­ni­cate to the public how pol­luted the air cur­rently is or how pol­luted it is fore­cast to be­come. Dif­fer­ent coun­tries have their own air quali- ty in­dices, cor­re­spond­ing to dif­fer­ent na­tional air qual­ity stan­dards. In this case, Tai­wan’s air qual­ity is closer to that of the UK, which is why they use the UK stan­dard when for­mu­lat­ing Tai­wan’s PM2.5 in­dex.

Air qual­ity in­dex val­ues are typ­i­cally grouped into ranges. Each range is as­signed a de­scrip­tor, a color code and a stan­dard­ized public health warn­ing. Ac­cord­ing to the EPA, the air qual­ity reaches a danger­ous code pur­ple at over 71 mi­cro­grams of PM2.5 per cu­bic me­ter in the UK, while it re­quires over 250 for the U.S. stan­dard.

“It is not pos­si­ble for Tai­wan’s air qual­ity to reach 250 mi­cro­grams of PM2.5 per cu­bic me­ter,” said an of­fi­cial of the EPA. “If we adopt the U.S. stan­dard the guide­line will fail to func­tion or warn the public as it will con­stantly sug­gest that air qual­ity is at the level of mod­er­ate or good.”

Mod­ify the US Stan­dard for

Tai­wan: CTDF

In re­sponse, the CTDF and TMACT called upon the EPA to unify Tai­wan’s cur­rent air qual­ity in­dices in line with the U.S. stan­dard with rea­son­able ad­just­ments and thor­ough ex­pla­na­tion.

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