The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – In Costa Rica one can breathe some of the cleanest air in all of Latin America. However, the country still requires that the rules on air quality, dating from 2002, are updated.
A final report issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) noted that Costa Rica is located at position 31 of 282 countries, evaluated by the purity of its air. This study was conducted to evaluate the presence of particulate pollutants PM 10 in the city of San José. In Latin America the country was third, beaten by Uruguay (27) and Argentina (30), surpassing countries such as Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil.
“Too many urban centers are so wrapped up in dirty air that their horizons are invisible. It is not surprisingly that this air is dangerous to breathe. So a growing number of cities and communities around the world should strive to better meet the needs of its residents,” said specialist Flavia Bustreo on the website of the WHO.
The evaluation did not take all countries into account, including the United States. In Latin America, countries with more polluted air are Mexico (position 79), Chile (64), Peru (63) and Bolivia (51). In Costa Rica, between 2008 and 2013, WHO found an annual rate of 20% to 29% in the presence of PM10. PM2.5 particles were also evaluated.
“Effective policies and strategies are well known, but they have to be implemented on a sufficient scale. Cities like Copenhagen and Bogotá, for example, improved air quality by promoting active transport, prioritizing networks dedicated to urban public transport”quoted Maria Neira, WHO medical specialist.
Update of legislation is urgent
Jorge Herrera, Director of the Laboratory for Environmental Analysis of the National University (UNA), said the country urgently needs a renewal of legislation. Mainly because the values used by WHO are far from those used in the country.
“The current air quality decree is from March 2002, in theory, a healthy air quality standard has to be updated every five years. Since 12 years no single update of the norm has been done … It is assumed that from some pollutants, WHO has not found concentrations that cause effects on the health of people,” Herrera said.
The specialist explained that the PM 2.5 particles are more harmful to health than the PM10. Countries with worse air quality than Costa Rica, like Mexico, have updated its norms.
“They are so obsolete, that since 1997, countries like the U.S. and Europe are measuring PM 2.5 particles, which are the smallest and can enter the lungs. We do not have a normed value for small particles, we are working out a proposal to update the rules with the Health Ministry, “said Herrera.
New rules bring more demand
With a new and higher standard, the country may be inclined to use more friendly transport systems or more stringent controls for industries.
“When the more stringent norm is made, we must find out what is causing pollution and we must tighten the standard for it. If particles are generated by the industry through chimneys and cars. If you have more stringent norms, you automatically need stricter norms of RITEVE (Costa Rica Vehicle Inspection Requirement). But here everything is made upside down, ” said Herrera.
It should be pointed out that the lack of norms does not regulate PM 2.5 particles, which are associated with many respiratory ailments.
The Costa Rica News (TCRN)
San Jose, Costa Rica