Largest sandstorm in 5 years sends air quality to hazardous level

Taipei, The largest sandstorm to hit Taiwan in five years sent air quality in Yunlin County, located in the central part of the island, to a hazardous level on Saturday, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said.

Across Taiwan, air quality ranged from moderate to unhealthy as a result of the sandstorm, according to the EPA.

It said its station in the industrial area of Yunlin's Taixi Township has seen a record-high Air Quality Index (AQI), which reached a hazardous level of 10 in the 10-tier indicator as of 10 a.m. Saturday.

That reading means that the health impact had already reached an "emergency condition," and that all residents there are likely to be affected, according to the EPA.

The EPA added that its PM 10 concentrations reached 717 micrograms per cubic meter per hour at the time in Taixi, which is considered extremely high.

Chang Shuenn-chin (???), director of the EPA's Department of Environmental Monitoring and Information Management, said the air quality in Taixi was so poor both because of the sandstorm coming from China and strong winds in the region.

The wind speed had reached 14 meters per second, which was about the level of a tropical storm, causing flying dusts, Chang said.

Air quality might improve from Sunday after the cold air mass currently affecting Taiwan weakens, he said.

The EPA advised that everyone in the region should avoid outdoor activities and keep their doors and windows closed.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel