Coyhaique: officially the most contaminated city in Chile

COYHAIQUE – Having major problems with contamination, the city of Coyhaique now has been presented with the not so honorable title of ´Most contaminated city of Chile´. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers that the city has an environmental issue that needs to be solved. The health of its citizens is in danger, local politicians say.

According to the WHO, among the most contaminated cities in Latin-America six are located in Chile. Among those, Coyhaique is at the top of the list for the entire continent. With this alert it is expected that the government provides medical supplies to improve health centers, especially in pediatrics since children are the most affected.

Deputy Calisto told CNN Chile: “We have our children with constant respiratory problems. More than 50% of the medical appointments are for this kind of health complications. We are warning the Ministry of Health and asking that this issue can be attended not as pollution problem, but as a public health emergency.” Calisto expressed his concern since Coyhaique is not even a main city, but has only about 60,000 inhabitants and 19,000 houses. That represents a complex problem. “This problem is seriously affecting children, nowadays we have medical centers collapsed,” said Calisto.

According to Nicolas Huneeus, researcher at the Climate Science Center in Chile, the problem of poor air quality reaches beyond Santiago. To CNN Chile Huneeus remarked that the issue is associated with the burning of wood, residential heating and bad thermal isolation. The wrong wood burning conditions brings as a result the accumulation of particulate material, which with the lack of proper ventilation increases the level of concentration allowed under Chilean law. “Decontamination planning was implemented not long ago, so its effectiveness cannot be measured in just one year,” added Huneeus.

A World Health Organization study revealed that air is contaminated around the world. The study analyzes contaminating particles PM2, five which are the smallest and most harmful particles that can enter into the lungs and cause a health risk. Just a few countries around the world have low air pollution; just a 12% of the world’s population live in places where they can breathe fresh air. Chile is among the countries with most contamination in Latin-America. According to the WHO high concentrations of particles in the air could be a cause of death due to heart and brain failures. Therefore living in cities with the double of the recommended level of air pollution represents a big danger.

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