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|7||Taoyuan City, Taiwan|
|10||New Taipei, Taipei|
(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
live AQI index
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Moderate|| 52 US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in Kaohsiung is currently 2.5 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
|Saturday, Dec 2|
Moderate 81 AQI US
|Sunday, Dec 3|
Moderate 91 AQI US
|Monday, Dec 4|
Moderate 55 AQI US
Moderate 52 AQI US
|Wednesday, Dec 6|
Moderate 67 AQI US
|Thursday, Dec 7|
Moderate 64 AQI US
|Friday, Dec 8|
Moderate 60 AQI US
|Saturday, Dec 9|
Moderate 68 AQI US
|Sunday, Dec 10|
Moderate 62 AQI US
|Monday, Dec 11|
Moderate 62 AQI US
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Kaohsiung City is situated in southern Taiwan and is classed as a special municipality. It has an urban, coastal centre and stretches as far as the rural Yushan Range. It covers an area of approximately 3,000 square kilometres and had a population of 2.7 million people in 2019. It is the largest city in southern Taiwan and the third-largest overall.
In December 2020, the air quality index as published by the reputable Swiss company IQAir.com placed Kaohsiung City in the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” classification with a 105 US AQI figure. The main pollutant was PM2.5 with a concentration level of 37 µg/m³. Concentrations of other pollutants were as follows: - PM10 - 50.5 µg/m³, ozone (O3) - 70 µg/m³, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) - 33.3 µg/m³, sulphur dioxide (SO2) - 5.6 µg/m³ and carbon monoxide (CO) - 480.9 µg/m³. With levels such as these, sensitive groups should always wear a good quality mask when venturing outdoors. It is also advisable to close doors and windows at home to prevent the dirty air from getting inside. It is estimated that air pollution coat the lives of 3,200 people in 2020.
In 2019 Kaohsiung City was ranked as the second most polluted city in Taiwan with an average concentration of 22.7 µg/m³ PM2.5 particulates. During the months of June and July, it achieved the target figure as set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) of less than 10 µg/m³. August showed a “Good” reading of 11.2 µg/m³ and the remaining months were classified as “Moderate” with figures between 12.1 and 35.4 µg/m³. The exception being in January when the levels rose to “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” with a figure of 41.8 µg/m³. Looking back over previous years, the annual average is slowly improving with figures of 24.4 and 27.7 µg/m³ for 2018 and 2017 respectively.
A large percentage of Kaohsiung’s pollution comes from its neighbour, China. This is especially true for the winter months when the prevailing winds bring the polluted air from China’s industrial regions. The Environmental Protection Administration's (EPA) blamed the air pollutants blown in from China as the main reason in the increase in recorded levels from all of its 76 monitoring stations. The main increase was in the PM2.5 pollutant which, because of its microscopic size is perhaps the most deadly. Other pollutants such as sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2) and ground-level ozone (O3) were also seen to have an increased level during this time. Stations in the south of the country around Kaohsiung City reported that their readings put the situation into the “Hazardous” category.
The sudden rise in hospital admissions for respiratory problems can be seen at this time of year which is due to the haze drifting over from mainland China. Other symptoms showing an increase are eye irritation, sneezing, wheezing and coughing. Sometimes the skin can be affected too, depending on the pollutants brought across in the air.
There is a 2,200 hectare industrial park completed in the mid-70s, located on the waterfront. This is the home to some very heavy industries such as shipyards, a steel mill and a petrochemical complex. There is also an oil refinery, aluminium and cement factories, fertiliser production units, sugar refineries and brickyards. There is a project to reclaim around 250 hectares of land alongside the coast in order to build a solar energy centre.
Kaohsiung City ranks as having the worst PM2.5 levels in the whole of Taiwan in 2018. According to the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), the city showed a decrease in the number of unhealthy air alerts when compared to the previous year. In 2018 the air quality index issued over 2,000 “orange” alerts for air that is considered to be “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups “and 277 “red” alerts to warn about “Unhealthy” air. This was an improvement of 706 fewer than the 3,040 orange and red alerts seen in 2017, at 2,671 and 369, respectively. This however, was a 24 per cent decrease when compared to the previous year.
Like most other major cities, Kaohsiung has experienced huge developments in its economy, but with the negative aspect of intensifying pollution. The port at Kaohsiung is the world's third-largest container port after Hong Kong and Singapore with extremely large facilities for repairs and maintenance. Because of the port, there is a very large fishing industry here.
In 2018, environmentalists and civic groups began to campaign for cleaner air after figures were released that proved the air quality was being polluted by coal-fired power generators and factory emissions, from the industrial zone. It was estimated by the Southern Taiwan Anti-Air Pollution Alliance that in excess of 5,000 people attended the rally to voice their concerns.
The protesters called for the revocation of a very unpopular part of the Air Pollution Control Act. The clause allowed companies to apply for a carbon emission offset system at one of their facilities whilst other parts were increased because of it. Protesters also complained about the proposed siting of a petrochemical plant near an elementary school by the state-owned CPC Corporation.
In 2019 plans were introduced that would replace all four coal-powered generators at the Hsinta Power Plant with natural gas-powered units over the next six years. Responding to calls from the protesters for cleaner air in the city the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) stated that two of the generators would be decommissioned in 2023 and another two in the following year. The EPA also said that efforts are being made to reduce emissions from other industrial areas across the city.
Local authorities in Kaohsiung launched a three-month free public transportation program in December 2017 to combat the heavy air pollution that adversely affects the city at the start of winter. The program encouraged users of electronic tickets to take city buses and intercity buses and the light-train network for no charge. Electronic ticket users were able to use the Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit (KMRT) system for free on weekdays from 6:30 am to 8:30 am and from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm in an attempt to keep some vehicles off the city roads and thus reduce pollution. If successful, the program could increase passenger numbers on city buses to almost 2 million users, on intercity buses by 70,000 and on the KMRT by 1.6 million. It was projected that the reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions would amount to an estimated 16,000 tonnes.
It is said that 65 per cent of the city’s air pollution comes from overseas, with factories producing another 38 per cent, construction sites add another 24 per cent and vehicles contribute another 38 per cent accounting for the remaining 35 per cent of pollution that is produced locally. It was stated that most forms of pollution can be controlled except vehicle pollution which was one reason why the free scheme was introduced.
Based on the Shared Mobility Principles for Liveable Cities, the Kaohsiung Strategies for the Future of Urban Mobility encourage local governments to transform their inner-city transportation systems and mobility patterns to become more sustainable, carbon-neutral, people-centred and less dependent on vehicles as the chosen mode of transport.
The Kaohsiung Strategies strengthen eco-mobile solutions by encouraging walking, cycling, the use of public transport and shared mobility as the basis for future urban mobility. The future use of Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) is to be considered too.
Even strong, fit healthy people can succumb to health complications due to contaminated air. A lot depends on the length of your exposure to the poor quality air and also to the concentration of the pollutants it contains. Symptoms could include respiratory irritation or breathing difficulties during exercise or outdoor activities. High levels of air pollution can cause immediate effects, such as aggravated respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses. The heart and lungs are susceptible to stress and therefore must work a lot harder in order to supply the body with the levels of oxygen that it requires. Cells within the respiratory system can easily become irreparably damaged.
Long-term effects can permanently damage the body through the increased ageing of the lungs and eventual loss of lung capacity and ability. Diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and possibly cancer are far more likely to affect a person who is regularly exposed to poor quality air on a regular basis.
The most susceptible people are those who have pre-existing medical conditions, especially respiratory ones. Individuals with heart disease, coronary artery disease or congestive heart failure and lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) must take extra precautions when exposed to polluted air.
In extremely polluted air, healthy people with no known problems can experience shortness of breath, tightness in the chest and coughing and/or wheezing. Depending on the content of the air, skin irritation can take place too. Under such conditions, the wearing of a good quality mask is always advisable.
4 Data sources