Pollution Island

Yo yo yo.

My boxing days are over but I’m still trying to keep my body clean. I drink lots of water.

So I go downstairs to the “ja shui zhan”/“water station” and fill up my water tank and take it back home.

Now the guy who owns that water station says you can go ahead and drink it, but I’m still cautious so when I get home I boil it in this water purifier machine thing. My mama says better safe than sorry.

But it’s weird, yo. The water station uses a gas pump to pump out the clean drinking water. I feel like I’m drinking gasoline, yo.

How safe is that water. Or should I just drink the “duo he shui” stuff.


Advice from my Taiwanese co-workers and friends (in Kaohsiung) is:


The main problem in Taiwan, as I understand it, about the tap water is that the pipes are all corroding. Take a look at a demolition site and the inside of the broken water pipes (or don’t, perhaps…) and you will see all the iron deposits.
Drinking the water in Taipei, generally, will not hurt you, but it could interfere with the natural operation of YOUR pipes. The tap water also tastes like shit.
If you are too cheap to buy bottled water, bring empties to your office and fill them up from the drinking fountains that purify the water…

I worked in the Taiwan EPA years ago. Boiling will just concentrate some pollutants. If you have a lot of money, you could buy Evian all the time, but that sits in plastic. When I lived in Fengshan we had an RO(reverse osmosis) water filter and changed the filter every 3 or 6 months- I forget.-v PS- We bought the filter from a family friend who owned the business. I would research the best filers through consumer reports and see if anyone in Taiwan sells and installs that kind of filter (the kind you attach underneath the kitchen sink). As for food- you better all have your hepatitis B shots. And go vegetarian while you’re in Taiwan. Some fields are contaminated by polluntants, however, since factories are situated right next to farms and factory waste water goes in the same stream used to get irrigation water.-v

yo yo yo.

I’ll buy a reverse osmosis machine. Then I can make my favorite “reverse osmosis salsa”. Yo.

But what about the air?

I bought this Honeywell air purifier for my room. And a plant, too. I don’t smoke, you know. But I hear that breathing the air outside is the same as smoking a pack a day. My question is… a pack of what? Marlboro lights? American Spirit filterless?

I think my air purifier must be good, because when I walk outside I notice the bad air. I don’t want to jog out there on the streets like I did back in my boxing days.

You can buy aerosol cans of pure O2 on the first corner south of the main post office in a medical shop…

Rock, I know we all wanted to stay away from the big ORG, but I guess if you want to talk to people, you got to go where they are. I still think Gus and Chrissy are sneaks, though. That having been said, I will continue to add to their hits so as some time in the not too distant future, when they pitch ‘ORG to COM’ to investors, they will be able to include my modest contributions in their hit list. I once asked the head of the water quality department in the Taiwan EPA (around '88 or '89) what advice he could give me about getting safe drinking water in Taiwan. His reply: “move”. He was joking, I assumed, and I asked him what he did for his family. He said his whole apartment building had a special water filtering system. I think he said that Taipei was among the better cities in Taiwan for water quality,though. If you are super -de-duper (can you tell I have been spending all day with pre-schoolers?) concerned about your health, you should either not be in Taiwan or you should move to a less developed area of Taiwan. I did this whole report years ago on how the government initiated a policy in the ‘60s of situating factories thoughout farming areas and how the waste water was dumped untreated into streams where farmers got irrigation water. There have also been stories in the press throughout the years about chromium getting into rice paddies (chromium, I believe, can’t be boiled or heated out of rice). Then there is the whole labeling travesty where people selling farm goods from well-known polluted areas will put down the name of a non-polluted area as the source of the product, etc, etc. Can you see why I will not raise my daughters in Taiwan? I was pregnant for 9 months and gave birth to my first daughter in Taiwan and she developed a growth on her eyebrow that had to be removed when she was a year old. The neighbor’s baby down the alley way had the exact same kind of growth. But this is purely anecdotal evidence. If I were in Taiwan again, I would see what lucky foreigner was working in my old job in the Taiwan EPA (as’yingwen mishu’ or English secretary) and hit them up for the latest stats. I would also see zhang guo long at the huan bao lian meng, which was and I hope still is the DPP’s environmental org, and ask him what his family does to protect their health. I would eat lots of cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower since these are supposed to have something in them that is good for the liver- the body’s de-toxifier. I would drink no alcohol, since it poisons the liver. And I would not go to a doctor who gives about 7 different pills wrapped up so prettily to treat cold symptoms. I once asked a doctor why Taiwan doctors give out so many pills and he said the patients simply expected it. Maybe Taiwan consumers have been brainwashed into thinking they need all that xi yao to get better just as taiwan women have been brainwashed into thinking they must feed their infants formula because their breasts are too small and won’t produce enough milk. Anyway, I think you are on the right track with the HOneywell airfilter. I would also suggest staying off the streets during rush hour and the hottest parts of the day because of ozone. And watch out for indoor air pollution. Don’t store all sorts of cleaners and such in your apartment. I would put them out on the balcony. Gotta go!!!-Chicken Little v

To v

Thx for the advice on water in Taipei.

However, for food related things you need Hep A shots, NOT B, you can onky contract Hep B through bodly fluids etc and is a nasty beast. A on the other hand, whilst taking you outof action for about a month is treatable. That said it is contracted through food etc and is far easier to get.

Get your shots people!


I have never had a shot for anything and 16 years in Taiwan hasn’t given my hep or anything else (except a cigarette habit). Am I some genetic freak or is this innoculation thing a bunch of paranoid hot air?


have you had a check for hep a? i only ask as a mate of mine was here for 4 years before he realised it and it had done untlold damage on his liver, plus he had yearly checks here for ARC purposes. got the test when he was back home. there are some pretty obvious symptons like tiredness, yellow eyes, pale stool and dark urine.

You are right, Hep B is transmitted through bodily fluids. But if you go to a restaurant, you are taking a chance. My husband is a Chinese cook and he is always cutting himself by accident. Also, if you plan to do the wild thing in Taiwan, Hepatitis B is widespread and is often passed from mother to child. And your Chinese partner may have it and not even know it- it usually doesn’t kick in til people hit their 40s or 50s. Rates of liver cancer and liver failure are much higher in Taiwan than the US. I had sex with someone who had Hep B and developed antibodies to it, which I think, but I’m not sure, is what happens in the majority of the cases. My husband has hepatitis B now and he shows no obvious signs of it. If you think I am exaggerating, ask any Taiwan doctor about the rates of Hepatitis B in Taiwan as compared to western countries. It’s not that bad getting the shots (I think you need a series of 3), but of course you should still use condoms for protection from AIDs.-v

Yo, v.

How does reverse osmosis work? What’s it do to the water.

Yo, everybody. It’s funny because all the reverse osmosis machines in Taiwan have “reverse osmosis” written in English on the front. Then, this one I saw, if I remember correctly, said “全自動高溫開水機”. But the Chinese sounds too simple. I don’t think “fully automatic high temperature drinking water machine” has anything in it that sounds as funky as “reverse osmosis”. Anyone heard of a band called “reverse osmosis”? Anyone want to start a band called “reverse osmosis”? Yo, we can get the funky reverse drum sounds and I think I can push a couple of buttons on my Casio, yo.

Oh, yeah, v., don’t worry about Gus and Chrissy bein’ sneaky. They get all their money from this commercial they did for Wrigley Sugarless Blueberry Gum. It’s the cutest commercial and they even sing this cute little song. I dig it. Yo.

Ro, I’m not an expert so you need to get a book an read up on it. Reverse Osmosis may not even be the best way to filter water now. It may be used in combination with a carbon filter or something. You have to read up on it in consumer reports, which is online- probably something like consumerreports.com or something. If you are planning on staying in Taiwan a while, I would seriously look into it. what’s with the commercial? I’m guessing that you are being tongue in cheek and that there are actually two Barney-cute kids in this commercial who exemplify G/C’s joie(sp?) de vivre. xi m xi ah nay?

Ya, so of course I should go search the web. So I just did, yo. And now I know that “reverse osmosis” in Chinese is “逆滲透”/“ni4-shen4-tou4”

This web site says it’s still the best. They have a Chinese and an English page:

yo, reverse osmosis - YO!

If you want a tangible demonstration of osmosis - take an egg - break the pointy end - yes the two ends of most eggs are diferent - and drain it - now carefully crack the bottom and remove the shell, but not the membrane that lines the eggshell and is not directly attached at that end.

Place the modified egg in water and support the egg about where it floats - membrane down. Now put some salt in the egg and enough water to dampen it. In about 3 hours the water level inside the egg will rise. If it does not, there is a hole in your membrane, or you tap water has more disolved goodies than the salt water you put in the egg.

So reverse osmosis - this involves pressure and is hard to observe in action in your kitchen. The principle is: stop the level in the egg rising. Imagine that your egg was full of salty water and you could put some pressure on that water. The level in the egg would go down, the water in the egg would become saltier and there would be more “pure” water outside the egg.

Reverse osmosis is used regularly in hospitals as a cheaper alternative to distilled water.

So is this healthy or not?