Serious Issue - Pollution & health

I have seen many posts and references on various threads dealing with pollution, especially from “v” and others.

It would be great if knolwedgeable people such they, and others, could enlighten us ‘ordinary folk’ who have taken up residence in Taiwan what the health issues are with regard to pollution, toxins, water purity, heavy metals, swimming, buying ‘clean’ foods,travelling by scooter, raising kids, etc. etc. Perhaps on one thread.

I’m not an alarmist, it is just that I know that by living here I am exposed to a greater level of pollution and environmental harm. As I intend to stay for a while, I feel it is important to know what additional risks I/my family is exposed to, and be able to take concrete steps to reduce (perhaps not ever eliminate) these.

Practical things like - what type of bottled water should I use, and is a filter better? Should I avoid pork, or certain vegetables that have been irrigated with polluted water, etc.

I know this is the open forum, perhaps this was better posted in Living in Taiwan, I’ll leave it up to administrators and others to decide. Whatever, it is an issue that directly effects all of us.

Imported bottled water might be a good idea. Don’t exercise after 7 am, as the health benefits of the exercise is outweighted by the harmful pollutants, you are inhaling. (I read this in China Post once).

There were 12 brands of water and mineral water that passsed a recent safety test - the rest failed. The list of safe ones was in the paper, but then I lost it. All I remember is Evian. Does anyone have the list?


I read that list, too. Let’s see what I can remember…

– Evian
– Volvic
– Yes! (I think that’s the one with the little guy jumping or running)

…uh, that’s all I remember right now. I know I still have that paper kicking around somewhere at home, though. If I find it, I’ll post it. There are 2 others that were bacteria-free.

My info is 10 years old, but things are probably worse now (sorry to have to put it that way). Get in touch with the environmental groups in Taiwan and ask them what they do to protect themselves. Then post it here. Just quickly, I wouldn’t eat in restaurants that much. I would get Hepatitis B shots. I would be mostly vegetarian. I would find out what the best water filter was, get it installed under the sink- or better yet, for water throughout the house, including the bathroom. I would change the filters often. I wouldn’t see doctors who give you nice colorful packets of various pills. I would live in the mountains if I could. The assistant to the EPA director at the time I worked there lived in a place whose English name was “Flower City”- I’m not sure exactly where it was, but they had their own shuttle buses to bring people to Taipei so it couldn’t have been that far away. If I had small childen I wouldn’t live in Taiwan at all, which is why I am in the US. Here I have to deal with another kind of posion called American junk food which my children are surrounded with. So, anyway get in touch with some environmental groups-not just one, though.

Some facts from “Dragons In Distress” by Waden Bello and Stephanie Rosenfeld of the organization Food First ISBN: 0-935028-55-2: Taiwan is currently among the top users of chemical fertilizers per square inch in the world…Fertilizer overuse is a major contributor to water pollution…Fertilizer runoffs also contaminate groundwater, which is the source of drinking water for many Taiwanese…Fertilizer overuse has gone hand in hand with pesticide overdose. Todasy Taiwan is one of the top users of pesticides in the world, with an average of four kilos applied per hectare…Pesticides are a major source of contamination of Taiwan’s surface water and groundwater…For farmers and farmworkers, constant exposure to pesticide substantially increases the risk of cancer, while pesticide residue in food not only increase the risk of cancer but may also have “behavioral effects”, alter immune system function, cause allergic reactions, and affect the body in other ways…One way that farmers cope with the pesticides is described by Hsiao: Many farmers don’t eat what they sell on the market. They grow another crop without using pesticides and tha’s what they consume." I’ve heard that story from other sources as well. More later.

“Overuse of fertilizer and pesticides is not the only cause of the poisoning of the countryside. Taiwan’s formula for balanced growth is, ironically, now a major culprit. To prevent the concentration of industries in a few urban areas and to spread employment oppurtunites Taiwan’s planners launched, in the 1960s, an aggressive policy of encouraging manufacturers to set up shop in the countryside. The result was a substantial number of the island’s 90,000 factories locating on rice fileds, along waterways, and beside residences. To check the helter-skelter character of the process, the government enacted token zoning legislation in 1981 barring firms from setting up in agricultural fields. The policy, however,remained largely unenforced: of new firms established in 1984, for instance, only 2568 out of 4259, or about 60%, were located in the correct zone. With 3 factories per square kilometer, Taiwan’s rate of industrial density is 75 times that of the US. Thus jobs may have been spread out more equitably, but at the price of exposing rural communities and ecosystmes to uncontrolled airborne and waterborne pollution.” When I talk about such things with Taiwanese people, sometimes they say “waiguoren hen pa si”.

Being the geek that I am I have collated a list of the enviromental “organisations” in Taiwan. Maybe I am missing a few but there is loads to go on. Also, please excuse the crude romanisation.

Taiwan govermental

  1. Enviromental Protection Administration
    41 Chunghwa Road, Sec. 1 Taipei (8862)3117722

Other Organisations

  1. Academy of Sciences
    128 Yen Chiu Yuan Rd. Nankang, Taipei 11529 (8862)7823142

  2. Chinese Forestry Association
    No. 2 Hang Chow South Rd. Sec. 1, Taipei

  3. Chinese National Park Society
    National Taiwan University, P.O. Box 23175, Taipei, (8862) 3627652

  4. Environmental Protection Society of the Republic of China
    10th floor, 201 Tung Hwa N. Rd. Taipei (8862) 7122083

  5. Institue of Environmental Resources Research Centre
    165 Hsinhai Rd. Sec. 1 Taipei (8862) 7325676

  6. New Environment Foundation
    12 Roosevelt Rd. Sec 2 Taipei (8862)3969522

  7. Society for Wildlife and Nature
    No. 7 Lane 58, Woh Long Street, Lane 58, Wooh Long Street, Dah Au Chiu, Taipei (8862) 7412827

  8. Taiwan Environmental Protection Union
    Lane 74 Wenchow Street, taipei (8862) 363419

How ironic…does this mean eating at McDonald’s is healthiest in Taiwan?


Another brand of water that made the list was “多喝水”

Hey! I wrote that with 倉頡! I’m tho thmart!

but I didn’t read the list myself. A friend who read the list told me. He’s an asthmatic and a healthy guy, so I can trust him.

I’m familiar with the Environmental Protection Union which, at the time I was in Taiwan, was affiliated with the DPP. At the time I had contact with a Tai-Da Physics professor Zhang Guo Long- so maybe that’s who you could contact. You could say you were doing a report on how to deal with all the pollutants in the environment and stay healthy. If you do so, ask him if he remembers the meiguoren Vera who was the Yingwen mishu at the Taiwan EPA in 1990. I also went to the same university he did when he was in the US.

“With their profits dependent on reducing as much cost as possible, small and medium-size establishments have largely disregarded the government’s weak waste-disposal regulations and dumped industrial waste into the nearest body of water, placing it directly in the food chain. Twenty percent of farm land, the government admits, is now polluted by industrial waste water. Thus it is hardly surprising that, according to Edgar Lin, one of Taiwan’s leading environmentalists, 30 percent of the rice grown in Taiwan is contaminated with heavy metals, including mercury, arsenic, and cadmium. Trackng and isolating such poisoned stocks of grain has beocme a near-impossible task, a fact underlined by the disappearance in the market of twenty tons of cadmium-contaminated rice in 1988.”

Originally posted by v: I also went to the same university he did when he was in the US.

Uh…would that be…Yale?

Sorry about the previous blank posting, but I couldn’t find the delete button on the “Edit/Delete” section. Gotta getta life…

How did you know he went to Yale? I just said you could mention that we both went there to help him jog his memory. He knew I went there and going to the same mu xiao I guess is a bigger deal in Taiwan than it is in the US. Did you contact zhang guo long?

“The water polution situation is extrememly serious yet its real magnitude will be unknown for decades.There are almost no records of the types and quantities of toxic effluents dumped into waterways during the past thirty years. Testing for contamination is difficult, as there are hundreds of posssible toxic substances, some of which are dangerous to human health at minute levels. Dioxin, for example, is considered carcinogenic in parts per trillion: no labs exist in Taiwan than can measure such small quantities. (Dragons in Distress was published in 1990) Yet it can safely be assumed that the volume of toxic chemicals dumped into the waterways is high, considering the industries that exist in Taiwan, which include the most heavily polluting types like leather tanning, plastics, chemicals, petroleum refining, and pesticides- and also considering that there was a total lack even of discussion of regulation of disposal practices until the 1980s, and that the Environmental Protection Administration did not come into being until 1983…cancer, Taiwan’s leading cause of death, has doubled over the last 30 years.”

There is little doubt that there is extensive ground and surface water contamination in Taiwan. This is because regulation and prosicution of offenders is a mindfield to cross. I am unaware of the exact regulations concerning contamination but the diffuse so called non point source contamination (fertilizers, pesticides) will have no effective prosicution system. In countries with, dare I say it, more advanced, consious environmental movements, prosicution of this type of incident is extreeemly rare. The only form of regulation occurs with controlls on quantity and quality of the chemicals applied. Call me a sinic but I can not see an effective system of this nature being adhered to in Taiwan and subsiquently we will have to contend with potential toxicosis in one form or another.
Point source pollution (discharge pipes from industry, sewage etc) is, providing there is a strictly enforced discharge limit, an easier threat to quantify. Although there are many unknowns, (in terms of so called micro pollutants), a happy medium can be reached with the concerns of the environment and the needs of the industry to dispose of waste. However, this is semi-effective (and certainly less than ideal from an ecological point of view) even in countries with more developed environmental legislation. This is mainly due to the montrous problems concerning causation chains in the legal world, i.e who is to blame. So what hope do we have in Taiwan?
Well someone find that damn list of potable water sources for a start and crap, the cost of food is going to increase with more trips to the organic store.
Sorry about the rant but I have been in Taiwan for a year now with little opportunity to release any env thoughts. Thanks for the avenue

Also, I’m no expert, but the liver is the organ that washes all the icky stuff out of our body- so you have to take care of it more than you would in a less polluted environment. That means reducing the poisons into your body that you have control over. Don’t drink alcohol and don’t take a lot of unnecessary medicines (aka med packets given out by Taiwan doctors). Eat lots of cabbage, brocolli and cauliflower. Learn to cook some meals for yourself if you don’t already do so. My husband just gets instant noodles and while they’re boiling, puts all sorts of healthy stuff in the pot like cracking some eggs, cabbage or spinach leaves, tofu, etc. Wash your hands often. I found that the healthiest period of time I had in Taiwan came when I would wash my hands with soap everytime I came in from being out on a trip to the store or whatever. Don’t smoke. Don’t eat shellfish as they are raised close to shore, which is extrememly polluted. Don’t eat fresh water fish. I used to eat xue3 yv2 (cod) and salmon a lot. Any other suggestions?

My Grandma is 81 years old and seemedly fitter, more flexible and generally more fruity than I am (28 years old). She has lived in Taiwan for 50 or so years. Her tip is to gargle salt water three times a day to remove smeg from the delicate bits in the back of your throat. Dont know the technicalities but I guess the salt removes bacteria and possibilly the pollution tar that surely accumilates there. I dont do it as often as I should but I have noticed a decrease in those annoying colds. So get gargling guys.
Also stacks of vit C cant do any harm. (unless mega dosing!!)

Oh come on “V”…we all know you’re Vera from


poop, I’m not hiding anything. I used to go by vera on, but then after posting there for 2 years, I figured everyone would know who I was if I just used “v”. It’s just faster. And I like the way the letter ‘v’ looks standing alone, like ‘v’ for ‘victory’. So, I guess you could say I switched to ‘v’ for aesthetic reasons also. Now, poop, may I hear the story behind your name choice?-vvvvvvvvvvvv PS I’m going to guess you used to be fluffy lovely, am I right?