News Latin America Bogota decrees the environmental alert for poor air quality

Bogota decrees the environmental alert for poor air quality

Panoramic of the center of the city of Bogota. January 12, 2022.Juan Carlos Zapata

The capital of Colombia has decreed an environmental alert at noon this Friday due to poor air quality. According to the Bogota Environment Secretariat, the air has been negatively impacted by particulate matter generated by forest fires in the southeast of the country—particularly in the departments of Vichada, Meta, and Casanare.

The Secretary of the Environment, Carolina Urrutia, clarified that for now the mayor’s office has not demanded measures to restrict the circulation of vehicles, as normally happens in Phase 1 of an emergency. Urrutia, however, made several recommendations for Bogotanos: not to exercise outdoors in the morning; not resort to private vehicles and give priority to public transport to get around; not go to barbecues or other events with high emissions; clean, with a damp cloth, the surfaces where dust accumulates. She clarified that the weekly cycle path will remain open this coming Sunday.

The mayor’s office says it will be carefully monitoring the air quality, as there are some adverse conditions at the moment. “According to the forecasts of the Ministry of Environment, it is expected that the concentrations of particulate matter will remain in moderate and regular conditions throughout the city,” says a statement from the mayor’s office. “In addition, the weather conditions, such as the direction and speed of the winds, are causing the emissions to arrive and remain in Bogota, thus raising the concentration levels of particulate matter,” he adds.

Currently the IDEAM, meteorological institutehas maintained the red alert due to the probability of fires in Meta and Casanare—where the contamination comes from in the capital—but also in four departments of the Colombian Caribbean (Bolivar, Cesar, La Guajira and Magdalena) and one Andean (Boyaca).

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This is not the first time that the air quality of the capital receives contaminated particles from the fires in the southeast of Colombia. Exactly one year ago, Bogotanos and citizens in the city of Medellin had similar pollution alerts due to fires in the Colombian Amazon and Orinoquia. And, although last year the attention was not drawn by the fires but by the intense rainy season throughout the country, known as La Nina, several experts believe that this year there could be an equally intense dry season, known as El Nino.

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