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Poor air quality forecast due to Chinese sandstorm

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The air quality over Taiwan is expected to worsen over the next three days due to a sandstorm — one of the largest to hit Taiwan since 2006 — the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) forecast yesterday.

The EPA advised people with cardiovascular or respiratory disease and those with weak immunity, such as children and the elderly, to avoid being outdoors during the period.

The sand, blown from northern China, will arrive in Taiwan along with a cold air mass this weekend, causing severe pollution, said Chang Shun-chin, a technician at the EPA's Department of Environmental Monitoring and Information Management.

The storm is also expected to bring a lot of industrial waste from China, increasing the concentration of air pollutants such as particulates and sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere, Chang went on.

In particular, the concentration of particulate matter is expected to rise to up to 400 micrograms per cubic meter per hour, 6-10 times as much as normal readings, he said.

The storm will affect the entire country and is unlikely to dissipate until next Monday, he added.

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