Air quality changes in Taiwan over the past decades and during the COVID-19 crisis

Chih wen Hung*, Ming Fu Shih

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Over the past decades, Taiwan has achieved remarkable goals in air pollution reduction with the concentrations of several common air pollutants such as CO, NOx, PM10, PM2.5, and SO2 going down. In contrast to these achievements, the mitigation of O3 remains extremely tough due to the complexity of its formation process involving synergistic effects of precursor reductions and meteorological influences. During the local COVID-19 crises in Taiwan and the Level 3 alert in 2021, air pollutants directly emitted from the traffic such as CO and NOx present clear relationships with the drop of the recorded freeway traffic volume due to the alert, while PM10 and PM2.5 which are also relevant to the traffic do not show indications of being greatly influenced by the decrease of the traffic flow. Although road traffic is not regarded as a main source of SO2 by current understanding, the unusual SO2 variation patterns found in this study suggest a prolonged impact for months from the changes of travel behavior during the epidemic. In contrast, the epidemic did not exert influences on industrial SO2 concentration which accounts for a large portion of total SO2 in Taiwan, and a similar scenario is also seen in each type of O3 monitoring. Although some results discussed in this study are not in line with current consensuses and understandings in terms of the nation of certain air pollutants, these findings may disclose new perspectives which could be a potential benefit to air quality improvement projects in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
JournalTerrestrial, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Dec


  • Air pollutants
  • Air quality
  • COVID-19
  • Taiwan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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