Bogotá is facing a concerning environmental situation due to forest fires in the eastern hills, leading to an air quality emergency. The city has seen a significant increase in particulate matter concentrations, especially in the western, southern areas, and the town of Chapinero. The Ministry of the Environment has declared an alert for the southwestern area of the city due to high levels of PM2.5 and PM10 particles.
Particulate matter, or PM, is a solid or liquid compound that pollutes the air and remains suspended in the atmosphere. The increase in PM levels in Bogotá is attributed to the forest fires, but emissions from other sources of pollution also contribute to the problem. PM is classified based on its size, with PM2.5 and PM10 being the most relevant. PM 2.5 particles can penetrate deeper into the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, causing greater health effects.
The eastern hills and the town of Chapinero are some of the areas most at risk of being affected by the high levels of particulate matter. While there has been a downward trend in PM concentrations over the past 10 years, critical areas still exist in the city, especially in the south and west. Factors such as industries, roads, traffic, high population density, and erosion processes contribute to high pollution levels in these areas.
The recent forest fire emissions have made the situation in the towns of Kennedy and Bosa more critical, while the northeastern area maintains lower pollution levels. Researcher Jorge Pachón highlights the heterogeneity in the city and points out significant problems in the southwest. The absence of rain in areas like Kennedy, Bosa, Ciudad Bolívar, Fontibón, and Engativá contributes to the accumulation of particulate matter, exacerbating the situation.
Trees can help clean the air, but there is a notable deficiency in the southwest of the capital. Data from the Botanical Garden and the District Planning Secretariat show that, on average, for every three inhabitants in the city, there is half a tree. However, the proportion of trees per inhabitant varies significantly between different locations. The World Health Organization recommends at least one tree for every three people in urban environments, but only a few areas in Bogotá meet this standard.
Authorities are closely monitoring the air quality and taking measures to counteract the adverse effects on the health of the inhabitants. The situation in Bogotá serves as a reminder of the importance of environmental conservation and sustainable practices to protect the health and well-being of the city’s residents.
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Environment, Travel, Weather