Itchy eyes and coughing for no apparent reason are back. The Environmental Commission of Mexico City has activated this Thursday the environmental contingency in the metropolitan area of the Valley of Mexico. The pollution cloud is always there, but these days it looks a little thicker than usual, and the authorities have asked its citizens to avoid civic, cultural and recreational activities, as well as exercising outdoors between 1:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. They also do not recommend smoking indoors.
It was in the Tlalplan mayor’s office where the meters were shot at 3:00 p.m. this Thursday. A concentration of ozone dangerous to health was recorded there. The Environmental Commission has issued an alert after contamination exceeded the permitted levels of 150 parts per billion (ppb), a figure that already far exceeds the maximum allowed by the Mexican standard of 90 ppb, and triples the 51 recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The authorities have also recommended teleworking as much as possible, buying online and reducing car trips as much as possible. As in other types of contingencies, it is better to avoid the use of air fresheners, aerosols, paints or waterproofing, or add gasoline between 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. To combat the high levels of harmful particles in the air, this Friday, February 24, circulation will be suspended between 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. at:
- Vehicles for private use with a verification hologram 2.
- Vehicles for private use with a type 1 verification hologram whose last numerical digit is 0, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 9, as well as those whose license plate consists only of letters.
- Vehicles for private use with verification hologram “0 and 00”, blue sticker, license plate ending 9 and 0.
- Units that do not carry a verification hologram apply the same restriction as to vehicles that carry a 2 hologram.
- Restriction to the circulation of 50% of the LP gas distribution units to stationary tanks that do not have a dry disconnection valve, whose registration ending is PAR.
- Local or federal cargo vehicles stop circulating between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., with the exception of those that are in the Self-regulation Program of Mexico City or the State of Mexico.
- Taxis with a verification hologram 1 or 2 will apply the restriction to circulation from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Among those reasons that make the capital of Mexico one of the most polluting in the world are, apart from specific issues such as solar radiation and atmospheric stability, more lasting problems such as the huge number of vehicles that circulate through the city every day. To the north of the city is the industrial zone of Tula, which due to the direction in which the winds blow in the Valley of Mexico, part of its waste is dispersed in the air and ends up in the capital.
Vehicles, in addition to emitting ozone that the city’s green areas are unable to absorb, emit nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide, which are also harmful to health. Greenpeace estimated in 2020 that the cloud of pollution that hangs over the heads of the capital from the time they get up until they go to bed is the cause behind 15,000 premature deaths a year. That toxic air that is breathed 24 hours a day increases the risk of heart attack, heart disease, lung cancer and asthma, and affects almost every organ in the body, according to the study.