March 1, 2017
A recent Clean Air Institute report assessing air quality and efforts to monitor in Latin America shows that the toxic threat of air pollution is not limited to Asia; indeed, it is a global problem with real impacts in Western Hemisphere countries, too. From Mexico to Argentina, pollutants in the air have reached dangerous levels, with implications for both public health and the planet’s changing climate.
The good news is that the solutions already exist: international standards and best practices are out there, and can to be adapted to and adopted in Latin America. Clean transportation and energy generation technologies are already taking root in the region.
According to the report, over 100 million people in Latin America breathe polluted air. The authors looked at levels of particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), ozone (O3), nitrous oxide (NO2), and sulfur dioxide (SO2) in the region. They compared the levels of those compounds with the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Air Quality Guidelines, and found that:
- Of the 16 countries that measured for PM10 in 2011, all exceeded the WHO’s recommended level
- Of the 11 countries that measured for PM2.5 in 2011, 10 exceeded the WHO’s recommended level
- Ozone was difficult to measure, but the authors did manage to take measurements of ozone in 2011 in Santiago (Chile), Mexico City and Quito, and all three cities exceeded the WHO’s recommended level.
- Of the 13 countries that measured for NO2, 7 exceeded the WHO’s recommended level
Encouragingly, the researchers also found that many countries have some standards in place to limit these emissions:
- Approximately half of the countries included in the study have PM2.5 standards
- All of the countries that have any standards in place (16) have PM10 standards
- 13 of the countries have Ozone (8 hour) standards
- All 16 countries have SO2 (24 hour) standards
- 15 of the 16 countries have (annual) NO2 standards
However, a standard alone will not make a difference. Governments need to make sure that the standards they pass will drive results. The CAI’s report duly notes that many of the standards do not meet WHO guidelines or guidelines used by the European Union and the United States.
As China is setting a timetable for cleaner fuels, countries in Latin America need to follow suit. Chile is leading the way here, having approved regulation on the emissions of NO2, SO2 and PM2.5 from vehicles, and by requiring the use of cleaner, ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel nationwide. Mexico should be next, as the government has stated that it will work to pass vehicle efficiency and fuel quality standards that will make Mexico’s new vehicles comparable to those sold in the U.S. and Europe.
In addition to passing good standards, governments must also implement them, perform ongoing monitoring of the air quality, and reliably report the data. The CAI report noted that these were all areas in which Latin America’s countries need improvement.
What this means to you
A recent Clean Air Institute report assessing air quality and efforts to monitor in Latin America shows that the toxic threat of air pollution is not limited to Asia; indeed, it is a problem with real impacts in Latin American countries, too. Latin American pollutants in the air have reached dangerous levels, with implications for both public health and the planet’s changing climate.
MIRATECH can help
Contact MIRATECH for stationary engine emission solutions in Latin America.