Cut air quality indices down to 1: experts
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.
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
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.