Monday, August 20, 2007

Monitoring shows San Salvador's air pollution problems

Air quality monitoring by El Salvador's Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources confirmed that air pollution remains a serious health issue in San Salvador. The Ministry recently issued a report on air quality levels for 2006. Tragically, the area with the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate pollution was in the area around the city's maternity hospital. The report also disclosed the level of particulates in the air throughout all monitored areas rose "very considerably" from the measures in 2004 and 2005.

A 2005 study found unhealthy levels of volatile organic compounds created by motor vehicle exhaust in San Salvador's air.

Respiratory ailments caused by air pollution is a serious health issue for children in and around San Salvador

12 comments:

El-Visitador said...

«nitrogen dioxide and particulate pollution»

...can you say...

...untuned, unfiltered, obsolete diesel engines used by the bus industry?

ahhh! yes! the same ones used by the politically powerful bus industry. The ones who get a subsidy by virtue of not paying FOVIAL whereas everyone else does.

He he. Talk about unintended consequences. Keep the stuff cheap, so it is more economic to have inefficient diesel engines than to tune them up.

Brilliant!

Protons said...

Tim:

Thank for this posting.

the problem is related to urban planning.

The Hospital you mention is located near a big avenue.

If you visit other countries, sometimes you realise the level of precaution the urban planners had already place as a measure to isolate hospital from heavy trafic that create air and sound pollution.

In our country such consideration are not taken place, urban development in El Salvador is not a consecuence of mature planning but chronic disorganization

wally said...

If you live close to a busy street here in San Salvador, you have to deal with black dust that gets all over everything. That comes from the diesel buses spewing black clouds of smoke. But it's not just the buses, and even new diesel SUV's here tend to smoke, (and everyone wants to drive a diesel vehicle because fuel is cheaper). The answers I get are that 1. it's a cheaper grade of diesel being used 2. everyone is tuning their injector pumps for maximum power, generating more diesel smoke. I'm not sure for how many years this has been a problem here, but at some point in time it has to become a major health issue in the city because just as that black dust settles on the floor and the counter tops, it settles in people's lungs as well. At present that shows up in chronic upper respiratory infections, the gripe, that everyone has every couple of months. You're more likely to get an upper respiratory infection here than diahrea if you visit.

The other side of it is that the economy hinges on cheap labor who can only show up for work with cheap mass transit. The huge question is how do you fix the problem and still have cheap mass transit. Raising bus fares by a few pennies here is a huge deal.

inner-self said...

dear wally i have the answers to your questions.
what el salvador needs is a metro rail system very similar to the one used in los angeles. other major latin american cities such as caracas, santiago, buenos aires and mex. city have one. in fact it could even become, potentially, a national mass transit system given the diminute size of our beloved el salvador. the passenger wagons should glide, or rather slide on electric cables which would power them. anyway, the goal here is an electric metro rail system for el salvador!

inner-self said...

oh yeah, i forgot to express that yes, in deed, the urban development planning of san salvador, especially it being the face of the country, is a shame and a disgrace to all modern civilization. man we desperately need people who care in power!!

wally said...

While a metro rail system sounds like the answer, the reality is that the country has the mass transit system it has because it is the only one it can afford. Therein lies the problem. I'm sure someone would have loved to plan for the growth of San Salvador with light rail, but at the beginning of the planning stage the question of how are we going to pay for it surely would have meant the end of the project.

The riders can only afford to pay a pittance. The present system costs about a quarter and many are angry that it costs that much. In the U.S. rail systems have required huge tax outlays and still lose money. Those tax dollars to fund light rail don't exist here.

If you take away the pollution and the crazy motoristas, the mass transit system here works remarkably well. You can catch a bus, microbus or even a pickup almost anywhere in the country and at least in the city you won't wait very long. It doesn't cost the government a ton of money, and it moves huge amounts of people somewhat efficiently.

But you still have the pollution. It's a huge problem that now manifests itself in high rates of asthma in children, but should eventually lead to even higher rates of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in people middle aged and older at some point in the future. We don't see that yet because the pollution hasn't been that bad for a long enough period of time, but unless something changes that should be inevitable.

It may not actually be solvable by the Salvadoran government, FMLN or Arena, but have to be solved by someone somewhere coming up with a cleaner and cheaper source of fuel for transportation. That may well be the only realistic solution for this problem.

El-Visitador said...

Re:wally's comments on costly mass transport and El Salvador's inability to pay for its installation

You know, back in the 1920's, when cities such as São Paulo or Los Angeles or SAN SALVADOR or San Francisco were poorer than today's San Salvador, they all had mass transportation:

The electric trolley

All of them had it built courtesy of private enterprise. Governments back then did not spend a single cent to have these privately funded and operated systems.

Of course, neither they stiffle transportation (sorry, I meant "regulate") by mandating prices nor hours nor requiring kneeling transports for the elderly nor requiring special seats for the disabled.

How much we have lost since. How many people now get sick with diesel smoke because enterprise can no longer trust their investment in mass transportation will be safe from politicians.


- * -


San Salvador's non-polluting, electric trolley system opened on October 15th, 1920.

It was private.

HODAD26 said...

E-V this time you are correcto mundo
mass transit is the way to go for large urban areas and of course the bus companies are corrupt
in ES as in ALL latinolandia, the norm is 'fix it when it breaks'
maintainence is not too much the norm

diesels should have the valves adjusted every 10K miles or so and put a litter of automatic transmission fluid in the tank every 20 tanks
then again bio fuels [the best is HEMP seed oil]should start to be utilized,NOT coen nor sugarcane!!!!!
out the exhaust is CO2 and H2O, NOT SO2 and NO2 corrosive gases
and the trolley system would be more apropo
amazing making ther fishermen pay FONVIAL[this has changed recently] and the bus companies with theior rag ass buses NO??
oh well, El Salvador
love it, love the people however not a lick of common sense

and people in power that care???
yea when hell freezes over

HODAD26 said...

sad but true E-V, corporate run systems work best, if the corporation is NOT corrupt, poorly managed, socialogically responsible
etc.

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el guapo said...

i just read that now theyve considered building the literail proyect. huh, lets see if the bus unions dont everything, to include sobotage this proyect to halt it.