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Doctors rally after pollution survey

Taiwan's air quality ranked an abysmal 35 out of 38 countries surveyed by the World Health Organization (WHO), with Taipei at number 551 out of the 565 cities profiled, boasting an air quality on par with "smoker's paradise" Lebanon.

The terrible results prompted the medical industry to push for government action, with health advocates urging once again to scrap the controversial No. 6 Naphtha Cracking Project.

Experts put their heads together in a press conference held yesterday by the Taiwan Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology (台灣婦產科醫學會), the Changhua Medical Alliance for Public Affairs (MAPA, 彰化縣醫療界聯盟) and the Taiwan Academy Of Ecology (台灣生態學會).

Ko Wen-che (柯文哲), a surgeon at National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH), spoke as a husband whose wife had suffered first-hand the consequences of air pollution — this March, the doctor's wife was diagnosed with lung cancer that had spread to the adrenal glands.

His wife, Ko explained, has never smoked a cigarette in her life and only discovered the disease by accident in an annual checkup. The surgical doctor described immediate procedures to remove the tumor and is thankful that no chemotherapy was required. The diagnosis was a shock, nonetheless.

Unbeknownst to the public, Taiwan boasts the highest rate of female lung cancer patients, despite the fact that it has a relatively low smoking population. Ko points to the air quality as the culprit, due to the island's particulate matter (PM) index, or severe "PM pollution" problem.

Every single person residing in Taiwan is inhaling the harmful particulates, said MAPA-associated doctor Huang Min-shen (黃敏生), pointing out that the WHO reports found Taiwan's air quality to be no better than countries frequently subjected to violent sandstorms.

If the government does not take some from of immediate measures, the public will continue to suffer the debilitating health effects of PM pollution, the doctor added.

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