Asia Minute: Taiwan Tries Novel Approach to Fight Air Pollution

May 9, 2016

Credit Yi Chen / Flickr

Wildfires in Canada are blowing smoky air into parts of the United States this week. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued an air pollution health advisory over the weekend because of smoke coming from Ontario. In Asia, there’s a big debate in many countries about how much air pollution blows in from Mainland China. But in Taiwan, there’s a new movement to reduce homegrown air pollution. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

There’s no disputing the fact that winds can push air pollution across national borders.  Wildfire haze from Indonesia can blow over to Malaysia, Singapore, and even as far as Thailand.  Peak season is summer through early autumn.

For China’s neighbors, winters can be worse for factory pollution.  Regional cities also create their own pollution—not just with factories and fires, but with motor vehicles, gasoline burning engines spewing carbon monoxide and other pollutants.

In Taiwan, some community leaders are trying to curb a different kind of homegrown air pollution: the smoke of incense.

Agence France Presse reports several Taoist temples are banning the burning of incense.  And instead of lighting fiery pyres of paper currency as part of ceremonies…some temples are sending the offerings to state incinerators.

There’s also a substitute for firecrackers at festival time--at least one temple is playing CD’s of firecrackers.  The Taipei city government has been giving away fireworks CD’s for lunar new year for at least four years—trying to persuade individuals that they would be suitable substitutes as noisemakers in a non-polluting way.  The state-run Central News Agency reports the CD’s are available from Taiwan’s EPA--the Environment Protection Administration.