CLIMATE

Health dangers over contamination causes air pollution alert in Santiago

SANTIAGO – Santiago’s metropolitan intendancy decreed an environmental alert due to a high level of air pollution. This measure comes after evaluating air quality reported by the 11 monitoring stations.

Santiago set off another environmental alert in response to worsening air quality in the area. The intendancy of Santiago communicated the warning through its Twitter account on June 02. According to the release, wood burning for cooking and heating is not recommended in the entire region, but burning for agricultural purposes remains legal.

Low ventilation and atmosphere instability are the reasons the intendancy has promulgated the alert. Related to that the Chilean meteorology website Aire Santiago advises the meteorological forecast of atmosphere contamination remains on regular status. The status refers to the index of numbers of particles in the air – between 100 and 199 representing regular contamination.

In May the municipal intendancy had released another air contamination alert. On that occasion the police received the order to check general compliance with the restrictions. Vehicles use wasn’t restricted, but the ordinance prohibiting wood-burning was as important as it is today. Besides, residents in the metropolitan region shouldn’t perform outdoor activities.

In May 2017 the regional authority in Santiago forbade the circulation of at least 360,000 motor vehicles and ordered to shut down the most contaminating factories. The action responded to the high concentration of harmful particles in the air that affect the respiratory system. According to the ecology website Ecoticias.com, the measure promulgated by the government also included suspending physical education classes in Santiago. Senior citizens and those who suffered from respiratory diseases had to stay in as much as possible.

The mountain relief of the Andes and the influence of the ocean give Chile one of the most variable climates in the world. The Andes regulate air flow from the south into the Chilean territory. As a result, the air flow decreases during fall and winter, so contaminating particles remain in the area. In addition, thermal inversion phenomena contribute to the problem since surface temperature is lower than air temperature, which creates pressure from above and keeps harmful particles at ground level.

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