Air pollution presents a critical challenge in Latin American cities, with millions of residents grappling with its detrimental effects on health and the environment. From Mexico City to Guadalajara, these urban centers are at the forefront of efforts to combat pollution and safeguard public well-being.
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Air pollution issue is harmful to human health. According to WHO data, each year, about 10 million people die from the short and medium-term effects of inhaling toxins due to air pollution. To measure air quality, the IQA (Air Quality Index) is used, which identifies the level of purity or contamination of a specific geographical area daily. Air pollutants are identified in two types: gases, among which are carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide, among others.
In second place are suspended particles (PM2.5 and PM10), which are considered the most dangerous because of the ease they have in entering the respiratory tract, causing multiple respiratory problems and even cardiac arrest. The index is divided into the following indicators: Good (between 0 and 50 points), Moderate (between 51 and 100), Harmful for sensitive groups (between 101 and 150), Harmful (between 151 and 200), Very harmful (between 201 and 300) and Dangerous (with more than 301 points). Although Latin America is not one of the regions with the highest rates of poor air quality, several cities reach high levels.
These are the top 10 Latin American Cities in need to control air pollution:
Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City consistently ranks among the most polluted cities in Latin America, with PM2.5 concentrations far exceeding WHO guidelines. Despite ongoing efforts to improve air quality, the city faces significant challenges, resulting in thousands of premature deaths annually.
Lima’s air quality has seen fluctuations in recent years, with a surge in pollution levels posing renewed concerns for public health. Despite efforts to mitigate pollution, PM2.5 concentrations remain elevated, underscoring the need for sustained action to address the root causes of air pollution.
Bogota recently declared an environmental alert due to rising air pollution levels, particularly in marginalized communities. With PM2.5 concentrations surpassing WHO guidelines, the city grapples with significant health risks, highlighting the urgent need for comprehensive pollution control measures.
Santiago de Chile, Chile
Despite its scenic beauty, Santiago de Chile faces persistent air pollution challenges exacerbated by industrial activities and vehicular emissions. While classified as “Good” by the World Air Quality Index, PM2.5 concentrations remain a concern, necessitating sustained efforts to improve air quality.
São Paulo, Brazil
As Brazil’s largest metropolis, São Paulo contends with air pollution levels that disproportionately affect marginalized communities. Despite classification as “Good” by the World Air Quality Index, PM2.5 concentrations pose significant health risks, underscoring the need for sustainable urban planning and transportation policies.
La Paz, Bolivia
La Paz confronts severe air pollution challenges, exacerbated by its high altitude and industrial activities. With PM2.5 concentrations exceeding WHO guidelines, the city faces significant health risks, necessitating urgent action to address pollution sources and protect public well-being.
Despite its natural beauty, Quito grapples with air pollution levels that surpass WHO guidelines, posing severe health risks to residents. As one of the highest capitals in the world, Quito faces unique challenges in mitigating pollution and safeguarding environmental sustainability.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires struggles with air pollution stemming from vehicular emissions and industrial activities. While efforts to improve air quality are underway, PM2.5 concentrations remain a concern, highlighting the need for sustainable urban planning and pollution control measures.
Caracas faces persistent air pollution challenges exacerbated by vehicular emissions and urbanization. Despite classification as “Moderate” by the World Air Quality Index, PM2.5 levels pose significant health risks, necessitating comprehensive pollution control strategies.
Guadalajara contends with air pollution levels that exceed WHO guidelines, particularly during periods of high traffic and industrial activity. Despite ongoing efforts to improve air quality, PM2.5 concentrations remain elevated, underscoring the need for comprehensive pollution control measures.
Air pollution remains a pressing concern in Latin American cities, with millions facing significant health risks. Urgent action is needed to address the root causes of pollution, implement sustainable solutions, and ensure a healthier future for all.