The most polluted capitals and Latin American countries

Latin Americans suffer the increasing degradation of the air they breathe. Traffic and the destruction of forests affect the future viability of urban centers. And environmental pollution shortens life.

Rain with hail brought relief this May 16 to the more than 22 million inhabitants of Mexico City, after several days of an environmental emergency, caused by the transit of 5.6 million cars, industrial gases, and forest fires.
Rain with hail brought relief this May 16 to the more than 22 million inhabitants of Mexico City, after several days of an environmental emergency, caused by the transit of 5.6 million cars, industrial gases, and forest fires.
Image by Vicki Nunn from Pixabay

The Ministry of Public Education announced the suspension of classes, a measure added to the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN). Also, outdoor activities have been restricted. Mexico City suffers from the same disease as other Latin American cities, which even lead it in pollution, such as Lima and Santiago de Chile.

Mexico and seven problem cities

Mexico, preceded by Macao and followed by the Czech Republic, holds a 33rd position among the most contaminated. While in the same world ranking of contamination of the capitals of the planet, Mexico City occupies the 30th position, and with this, the third place in Latin America, followed by Brazil.

But Mexicali stands out in same Mexico, in the northwest of the country, where for three months a year, pollution increases to unhealthy standards.

Of the top 10 of the most polluted cities in North America, 7 are Mexican. The number two position in North America is Anderson, in California, while Mexico City occupies the number 15. Before that, there are Toluca, Ecatepec de Morelos, Tlalnepantla de Baz, and Nezahualcoyotl, all Mexican cities not very present internationally.

Chile, champion of wood burning

Despite the news about smog in Mexico City, Lima or Bogotá, Chile is the most worrying case in all of Latin America. Chile, the host country for the next COP 25 World Climate Summit, is ranked 26th among the countries with the worst air quality out of a total of 73. Worse yet, Santiago de Chile is the most polluted capital city in Latin America.

Moreover, the Greenpeace / AirVisual 2018 report reveals that of the ten Latin American cities most contaminated with microparticles, nine are Chilean. This global report, known as PM2.5 because it takes into account the finest particles, also establishes that of the ten most polluted cities on the planet, seven are located in India.

"Santiago de Chile ranks 20th among the 62 most polluted capitals in the world, where practically the entire year its levels are moderate to very bad," says Estefanía González, Greenpeace campaign coordinator, who explains that "the use of firewood is one of the biggest sources of pollution in Chile."

Peru: you eat well in Lima, but you breathe badly

The degree of pollution in Lima, Peru is worth the 22nd place among the capitals of the world. The capital of the Peruvians is guilty that the country occupies even the 21st place among the most contaminated, preceded by Kazakhstan and followed by Ethiopia.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in Lima, more than 15,000 people die every year due to respiratory and cardiac diseases caused by environmental pollution.

Colombia and its capital, an example of ineptitude

Thanks to the air of Sao Paulo, Brazil ranks fourth in the most polluted countries in Latin America, followed by Colombia, in fifth place. In turn, Colombia ranks 50th among the countries with the most pollution worldwide and its capital 44. Bogotá, a city of some 10 million inhabitants, including the population of neighboring municipalities, is on the verge of total collapse of the traffic: the lack of metro, many diesel vehicles, starting with Transmilenio, an old-fashioned car park, and the massive logging of "Los Cerros", its main source of oxygen, are taking this capital to 2,616 meters. height, to have one of the most harmful airs in the region.

Néstor Rojas, professor at the National University, warns in El Tiempo, that "the controls are completely ineffective" because there are vehicles that with more than 50 years of work continue to cause great contamination.

During the last environmental warnings, in February 2019, the authorities had to distribute masks to the most vulnerable population. In addition to the strong arrival of the phenomenon of El Niño, with drought and high temperatures, in February the winds brought to the city the smoke of wildfires caused in the vicinity and in Venezuela, where the burning of forests has become a harmful practice even for the inhabitants of the capital of Colombia.

More pollution, less life

Air pollution represents a major risk to health. The Greenpeace / AirVisual report concludes that air pollution, both in open and closed spaces, is responsible for some seven million deaths worldwide, every year.


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