A recent study has found that smog and other pollution in Chile have resulted in more than four thousand deaths each year.
According to the official State of the Environment Report 2011, which was released last week, 30 Chilean cities have ambient fine particulate matter higher than the set limit, which can lead to a number of health issues.
Dean of the University of Chile medical school, Cecilia Sepúlveda, says, “We are facing a very alarming situation and solutions are urgently needed.”
Staff at the main public health emergency care hospital in Santiago agree with Sepúlveda and held a strike last week to the lack of country-wide solutions to the smog and pollution.
Sepúlveda suggests an alert system that indicates when smog and air pollution levels are high, so officials can in turn temporarily order vehicles off the streets, shut down certain factories, and suspend schools’ physical education. If the pollution level “alarms” were to go off, families would be advised to keep the elderly and young children indoors.
IPS News reports that since 1992, 12 decrees to combat the problem have been issued and nine anti-smog plans are currently in operation. However, there is no alert or warning system to inform residents of smog/air pollution levels each day.
It would seem however, that the best thing to improve air quality would be o first increase awareness. Many who live in Chile do not realize that smells like wood smoke are actually an indication the air quality is likely not good, as the abundance of ovens burning wood in homes pollutes the air.