From Michigan to Taiwan: Air Pollution Technology
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As part of their public health work in East Asia, researchers at the University's School of Public Health helped introduce advanced air pollution monitoring technology to Taiwan. The exchange of knowledge about environmental technologies is important to all countries, especially those newly industrialized, and has been recognized as a central objective of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Taiwan ranks among the world's fastest growing high-technology countries. With industrial growth, environmentl and occupational health crises have emerged.
Taiwan's topography is one cause of its air pollution problem. Taipei, the capital and largest city, is effectively in a "bowl" ringed by mountains, while other industrial centers are along the northern and western coasts of the island, surrounded by water and high mountains. A second cause of Taiwan's air quality problems concerns its geography of industrial development, as polluting industries are intensely concentrated in certain locales. Finally, heavy automobile and motorcycle traffic compounds the crisis in Taiwan's cities.
In response to these problems, Taiwan's government and industry have become interested in new anti-pollution technologies. An example is open path Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometry (op-FTIR). Shining an invisible light beam through the air, this instrument identifies and monitors air pollutants, recording the "fingerprint" these pollutants leave in the beam.
The Industrial Technology Research Institute, Center for Industrial Safety and Health Technology (CISH) in Hsinchu, Taiwan, became interested in op-FTIR technology after reading a paper published in 1989 by Steven Levine and one of his students, Dr. Chris Strang, describing how the instrument could be used to monitor toxic contaminants in a computer "chip" plant.
CISH purchased one op-FTIR unit in the United States for use inTaiwan's industrial parks. After CISH staff received initial training in the United States, in 1994 Levine visited CISH and the National University's School of Public Health to lecture on the theory and use of these instruments.
Levine arranged for a doctoral student, Stefanie Giese-Bogdan, to spend October, 1994 at CISH, teaching a course on op-FTIR. Giese-Bogdan is a doctoral student in a joint program between the University of Michigan and Duisburg University in Germany. The FTIR lecture materials were all translated into Chinese by Zhou Yi, a scholar from Beijing Medical University supported on an FTIR grant directed by Levine.
Giese-Bogdan developed and presented a month-long training program that addressed theory, software and instrumentation, and field testing. Ten students attended her course.
Field study was performed in an industrial plant in northern Taiwan. Planning of the experiment addressed topics such as defining the goal of a study, determining the target process area, selecting air contaminants for monitoring, and exploring safety issues. Personnel from the Taiwanese EPA and from Hsing Hua University's FTIR group were also trained during this process.
Steven P. Levine is Professor in the School of Public Health; Stephanie Giese-Bogdan is a doctoral student in a joint program between the University of Michigan and Duisburg University in Germany.