The Clean Air Institute (CAI) presented in Mexico City the current state, the greatest challenges and recommendations related to air pollution in the region.
The report warns of the high levels of pollution that inhabitants are exposed to in Latin America and highlights that high concentrations, the lack of transparent monitoring activities and the existence of permissive regulations are the biggest challenges to overcome. With this report the CAI seeks to highlight the importance of the issue of air quality with respect to its high impact on public health and its relationship to international targets for climate change mitigation.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, at least 100 million people are exposed to air pollution above the limits recommended by the World Health Organization. Throughout the region, many deaths could be avoided and premature morbidity reduced if actions are taken to reduce the levels of pollution to which the population is exposed. From an economic perspective, this reduction in public health costs could achieve savings of between 2 and 6 billion dollars a year.
According to the CAI report, some cities in the region such as Mexico City, Bogota, Sao Paulo and Santiago have made significant improvements, but populations are still suffering from deteriorating urban air quality, produced by polluting activities such as urban transport, electricity generation, industry and manufacturing. However, this situation is predictable and reversible. In this sense, Air Quality Management planning of will be an essential tool for governments to develop successful strategies. "Improved monitoring and adoption of air quality standards are key to addressing these issues."
CAI's report indicates that the analyzed data strongly support the concern about high levels of particulate matter and ozone. Of the 16 cities that measured PM10 concentrations in 2011, all exceeded the levels recommended by the WHO and 9 of them exceeded the annual EU standard. Moreover, the data indicate that even cities with low annual average ozone concentrations, may have short-term concentrations considered unsafe for public health.
The report recommends a mechanism to meet regional commitments to protect public health, advance social and economic development, climate change mitigation and open doors to new investment opportunities. “Governments should be encouraged and supported to take on this responsibility and should enhance their understanding about the importance of this issue."