In the past decade, Mexico City was faced with a relentless growth of pollution. There are many reasons that this pollution is growing so steadily and refuses to cease. In 1995, Mexico Citys population was estimated to be about 17 million people. Now it is believed that over 25 million people inhabitate it as well as over 3 million cars, 3 million stray dogs and over 40,000 factories. The city sits at the bottom of a bowl shaped valley which prevents the wind from sweeping away accumulated pollution.
On top of the large industrial aspects and large population, the southern states of the country of Mexico often suffer from major forrest fires hich also greatly attribute to the problem. Because of the overuse of cars and the large number of factories, ground level ozone has become a huge issue when talking about pollution. Ozone levels stand usually at about 200-250. Any level past 100 is considered unsatisfactory and 150 is considered dangerour to those who has respritory illnesses or the youth and elderly.
Much of the citys haze is caused by horrible forrest fires that start in the southern states of Mexico. The smoke tends to blow north and gets trapped in Mexico Citys basin. The US is very concerned because occasionally, the smoke gets blown all the way to Texas and other outhern United States. They give Mexico millions of dollars to hire blaze-extinguishing helicopters in order to keep them under control and many times, the Mexican Army will be called in for assistance. Mexico City is home to over 3 million stray dogs. Their feces dries in the heat and their particles get picked up in the air.
Because of this, Mexico is one of the only places that you can catch Hepatitus or desentery just by walking down the street. The World Resources Institute Study Funded by the World Health Organization measures three important pollutants. These are sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and total uspended particles or TSPs. TSPs are tiny particles of anything ranging from dust to heavy metals which lodge deep in the lungs and cause major damage. While some cities in China scored worse with pollutants such as TSPs, Mexico was worst when taking into account the overall number of children under five exposed to the foul air.
BBC news reported that on average, 4 million tonnes of toxic emissions are released into the air each year. The city often suffers from pollution emergencies that sometimes last a week in length. When this happens, thousands of cars are pulled off the road and factories are ordered to work t 30% normail capacity. People are told to remain indoors and stop activities such as excercising or smoking. These emergencies are caused by clear dry spells that lock air in and cause forrest fires. It is not uncommon for elementary schools to cancel recess and keep children indoors.
Elementary school teachers report that when children paint pictures in class, they always use colors like grey, black or brown instead of blue when painting the sky. Children often complain of headache, and fatigue, sore eyes, scorched throats and diffuculty breathing. These are just the most common problems. Asthma and respritory problems are also common nd some people are affected more than others. The eldery, children and people who already suffer from illness are at an even greater risk. Even a common cold can double in length because of the pollution.
In 1998. Mexico had a five day emergency and during that time, approximatley 300 people died. Mexico City attempted to enforce new regulations on the use of vehicles. Everyone had to keep their car off the road one day per week, designated by license plate numbers. This meant that pollution would be cut by one-seventh. Although this was a huge step for the city, the plan proved to be almost useless. Trips that would be made on the designated day, would just be made the day after, and many people would just get another car.
They have to take more drastic approaches to this problem. Mexico is known to have little to no emission laws and the average age of the cars on the road are over ten years old. But because of the major poverty that the country faces, it is very diffucult to obliterate factories and search for alternative cars and energies. So unfortunately unlike Los Angeles or Toronto, because of the lack of money, this problem is a lot harder to clear up, but the city used to be beautiful and clean, and can be that way once again.