HDT 87: The deterioration of air quality
Marcelo Korc, PhD. Regional Adviser on controlling air pollution, December 2002.
Spanish version: HDT 87: El deterioro de la calidad del aire
- Air quality
- The Climate
- Vision of the future
1. Air quality
Recent estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that over 100 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean are exposed to outdoor air pollution, whose amounts exceed the guideline values recommended by the WHO.
The agency estimates that in Latin America and the Caribbean, approximately 400,000 people die each year from exposure to particles. In Peru, respiratory diseases are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in children under five attended in external consultations. It is estimated that approximately 60% of burden in respiratory diseases is associated with air pollution (WHO, World Health Organization, 1997).
In Peru, the outdoor air quality has deteriorated over the years. The main causes are: the explosive population growth, lack of urban planning, the use of old technologies in industries and the increase of the number of motor vehicles in circulation (especially with older Diesel engines and inadequate maintenance). With respect to the population, Lima grew from 1.8 million in 1960 to 7.5 million in 2000 (How much, 2000) (see Figure No. 2.1).
As for the total number of motor vehicles in circulation, it increased approximately from 320 thousand in 1980 to 720,000 units in 1998 (CIDATT, 1998) (see Figure No. 2.2).
Statistics also show that Diesel consumption in Peru increased from 11,900 thousand barrels in 1990 to 21,200 thousand barrels in 1999. Note that the leaded gasoline consumption has fallen over the years. However, about 55% of total gasoline consumption remains with leaded gasoline (MEM, 1999) (see Figure No. 2.3).
Additionally, in some cases the industries use old technology. For example, the copper smelter in Ilo only controls 30% of the sulfur dioxide emissions (Association Committee of Environmental Management – Ilo, 1998). Finally, it is important to mention the problem of indoor air pollution, especially for conditions of housing and work existing in Peru. Some of the main problems in this area are the presence of tobacco smoke in the environment, the use of biomass for cooking food and heating, the “sick building syndrome” 1 and the indiscriminate use of chemicals. Unfortunately, no studies have been published in which the impact of these problems is quantified.
- The figures on outdoor air pollution.
The most common problems on outdoor air pollution in large urban centers of Peru, are caused by the high concentration of particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and probably carbon monoxide. In Lima, the annual average concentrations of total suspended particles and nitrogen dioxide that were measured in the fixed station of the CONACO 2 building, are significantly higher than the standard for total suspended particles of several countries in Latin America, of 75 micrograms per cubic meter (Korc, Farias and Cerda, 2000) 3 as well as the national standard for nitrogen dioxide of 100 micrograms per cubic meter 4. Unfortunately, at the CONACO station, the concentrations of carbon monoxide were not measured.
For example, between 1996 and 1999, annual concentrations of total suspended particles were between 230 and 280 micrograms per cubic meter, and annual nitrogen dioxide concentrations between 150 and 250 micrograms per cubic meter. Furthermore, there has been an increase in sulfur dioxide concentrations and a decrease in lead 5 (see Figure No. 2.5). Point measurements made by the General Directorate of Environmental Health (GEDIEH) in 1999 (INEI, 2000) indicate that the maximum average concentrations in a 24-hour sampling of particulate matter equal or less than 10 microns of nominal diameter (PM10), exceed significantly the national standard, which sets a limit of 150 micrograms per cubic meter.
A diagnostic study of the Air Basin of Lima and Callao conducted in 2000 investigated the spatial distribution of particle concentrations, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and ozone (Swisscontact and GEDIEH, 2001). The results of this study indicate that contaminants are transported to the north and east of the city, following the pattern of dominant winds. In addition, pollutants tend to accumulate in the microbasins of the Chillón River and the Rimac River in La Molina and San Juan de Lurigancho, due to the existence of a permanent thermal inversion of 500 meters of average altitude above sea level and because the winds are trapped or diverted from its natural course through the hills and mountains (see Figure No. 2.6).
In Arequipa, the maximum concentrations of particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide (for an average sampling time of 24 hours, measured in the historic center of the city), exceed the standards established in several countries of Latin America of 200 micrograms per cubic meter for total suspended particles, and between 100 and 200 micrograms per cubic meter for nitrogen dioxide (Korc, Farias and Cerda, 2000 and Cáceres Deza, 1998) 6. Specific studies of GEDIEH indicate that in Cusco, Iquitos and Tacna the maximum concentrations of total suspended particles for an average sampling time of 24 hours also exceeds the 200 micrograms per cubic meter (INEI, 2000).
In small urban centers with mining-metallurgical units as Ilo and La Oroya, the main problems of air pollution are high concentrations of sulfur dioxide and particles containing high amounts of heavy metals such as cadmium, zinc and lead. For example, in Ilo has been measured in an hour, sulfur dioxide concentrations that regularly exceed the 2000 micrograms per cubic meter (Association Committee of Environmental Management – Ilo, 2000), a figure significantly above the directives of the European Union, of 350 micrograms per cubic meter (Korc, Farias and Cerda, 2000).
Near of roads with high volume of motor vehicles in circulation, it can also find high concentrations of volatile organic compounds, lead, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. Unfortunately, have not been performed studies about this subject.
- Initiatives for outdoor air quality.
It can be said that in recent years there have been efforts to implement programs to improve outdoor air quality in Peru. In 1993, the Ministry of Energy and Mines established the Environmental Regulations for Mining Activities (Supreme Decree No. 016-93-EM) and hydrocarbons (Supreme Decree No. 046-93-EM), which includes executing environmental impact studies for new sources of emission, the establishment of a compliance program and environmental management and inspections for existing emission sources. The regulations for hydrocarbon activities also includes maximum acceptable concentrations of air contaminants. In 1996, were approved the maximum permissible levels of immission and emissions 7 coming from mining-metallurgical units for sulfur dioxide, particulates, lead and arsenic (Ministerial Resolution No. 315-96-EM / VMM).
In 1997, the Ministry of Industry, Tourism, Integration and International Trade Negotiations (MITIITN) established the Environmental Protection Regulations for Development Activities of the Manufacturing Industry (Supreme Decree No. 019-97-ITINCI, 1/10/97), which includes the submission of an environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for new emission sources, depending on the environmental risk generated by the development of industrial activity; the establishment of a compliance program and environmental management and inspections for existing emission sources. The regulation does not include maximum allowable emissions of pollutants.
In addition to the above, in mid 1998, the Ministry of Transport, Communications, Housing and Construction (MTC) ordered the complete elimination of lead in gasoline for December 31, 2004 (Supreme Decree No. 019-98-MTC).
Moreover, with the establishment of the organization and functions of the National Environment Council (NENCO), in late 1997 (Supreme Decree No. 048-97-PCM) and the lack of national legislation on environmental quality, in November 1998 was approved a preliminary draft of National Regulation for the Approval of Environmental Quality Standards and Maximum Permissible Limits (Supreme Decree No. 044-98-PCM), whose annual program should be coordinated by NENCO and approved by the Transectorial Environmental Committee (TEC ). In early 1999, the Environmental Technical Study Group (ETSG) of Air (Presidential Resolution No. 025-99) was created with the objective of propose the preliminary draft of the regulation for establishing national standards for air quality. These standards were approved by supreme decree on June 24, 2001 (Supreme Decree No. 074-2001-PCM).
In late 1998, the Management Committee of the Clean Air Initiative for Lima and Callao (Supreme Resolution No. 768-98-PCM) was established under the Clean Air Initiative in Latin American Cities (CAI- LAC) organized by the World Bank, in order to propose measures to mitigate and prevent adverse effects of air pollution on the environment and the health of the population of Lima and Callao. Currently, the committee is developing a comprehensive plan for Atmospheric Sanitation for Lima and Callao, and with the support of the Swiss cooperation has designed a monitoring network of air quality for both provinces (Tamayo and Pedroza, 2000).
In addition, the 2000 annual program for environmental quality standards, has worked in the creation of 13 ETSG Air Zones.
In July 2001, the MTC published the National Transit Regulations (Supreme Decree No. 033-2001-MTC) and the National Vehicle Regulation (Supreme Decree No. 034-2001-MTC). These regulations include the program of technical reviews of motor vehicles, the approval of vehicles and sanctions for vehicles that are above the maximum permissible level of pollutant emissions for vehicles in circulation that will be determined in the future.
In small towns with mining and metallurgical units have also been taken actions. For example, in 1998 the Association Committee of Environmental Management of Ilo implemented the project “Ilo: Clean Air”. This project implemented a monitoring network of air quality with the support of WHO, the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives and GEDIEH; Also, in March 2001 was approved a contingency plan by the 122 ordinance (Association Committee of Environmental Management – Ilo, 2001).
- Another problem: noise.
The urban noise is also a major environmental problem in Peru. In large urban centers, people are increasingly exposed to noise from motor traffic and air traffic, construction activities and public works, and neighborhood. Monitoring programs are limited and are mainly based on complaints made by the community.
In July 2001, the MTC published the maximum permissible limits of noise emissions from motor vehicles in the National Vehicle Regulation (Supreme Decree No. 034-2001-MTC). Unfortunately, these maximum permissible limits and existing municipal ordinances are not respected. With the aim of raise awareness, in September 2001, the National Police of Peru began an initiative to prevent drivers use their horns unnecessarily. The effects caused by urban noise on health are considered a growing problem. The specific effects are interference with communication, hearing loss, sleep disorders, cardiovascular and psychophysiological problems, reduced performance, discomfort and tension in social interactions. (see figure 2.7).
- The pending challenges in favor of air quality.
In conclusion – Besides of the programs being made by the Management Committee of the Clean Air Initiative for Lima and Callao, the CONAM in training of the ETSG Air Zones and the Association Committee of Environmental Management – Ilo, the activities of assessment, monitoring and management of air quality in Peru have been isolated, and have not been framed in a comprehensive program that considers environmental, technical, economic and cultural factors. National and local institutions lack the technical and financial resources, monitoring programs are limited and management activities have not been planned and concerted between national and local institutions.
There is the need to strengthen the national and local institutions involved in monitoring and managing air quality, establish a comprehensive national plan with clear goals and publish guidelines for the preparation of local plans. According to the Regulation of National Standards of Environmental Air Quality 2001 (Supreme Decree No. 074-2001-PCM)-, the ETSG Air Zones shall prepare and implement local plans and CONAM will supervise the implementation thereof.
Sectoral national institutions should establish as soon as possible the maximum permissible limits and inspect, in coordination with the ETSG Air Zones, the application thereof. Finally, it should establish action measures based on the market, taking advantage of the tax regime and other economic instruments to promote sustainable development.
2. The Climate
Global environmental problems such as climate change and the depletion of the ozone layer in the stratosphere, also affect the Peru.8 One of the main mechanisms for solving these problems lies in international cooperation through conventions such as the United Nations Convention on climate change 9 and the Montreal Protocol of 1987 on substances that deplete the ozone layer. 10
The CONAM is the focal point of the activities performed in Peru regarding climate change. This institution has developed an inventory of greenhouse gases taking as base year 1994 (CONAM 1997) ; It has been developed a work on public awareness through print publications and a website on the issue of climate change (see http://www.conam.gob.pe), and conducting a series of seminars and workshops on the subject; It has been conducted research on mitigation and vulnerability to climate change with funding from GEF, CC: TRAIN, UNDP, the Danish Cooperation (DANIDA), and the Committee on Resource Management of the hydrocarbons sector in the government of Peru (CRMHS), and technical support from UNEP Collaborating Centre on Energy-and Environment, including: vulnerability study of water resources in high mountain (1998), mitigation of emissions of greenhouse gases in Peru. Energy, transport and forestry (1998) 11, energy efficiency and conversion of boilers in the Peruvian industry (1999) study of the use program of liquefied petroleum gas in taxis as a mitigation option of GHG emissions (1999), and additional demand for the Camisea gas in the framework of the Convention on Climate Change. Conversion to gas for industries, taxis and buses (2000).
Recently this institution has published the first National Communication on Climate Change, in compliance with the commitments of the Convention, through which reports the emission level of greenhouse gases, and also, as said by CONAM, explains the “positioning of the subject in the country, in the public sector, the business, academic, scientific and educational communities, NGOs, etc. “
Currently, the National Climate Change Commission is developing the National Strategy on Climate Change and promoting two technology packages for mitigation of greenhouse gases. It also hopes to develop a portfolio of projects on clean development mechanisms and perform an integrated local assessment about the vulnerability of the country in front of climate change.
In Peru, the Montreal Protocol and its amendments were ratified by Congress in March 1993. Later, in 1999 was approved the Copenhagen Amendment. The Peru prepared the Country Program, which contains the national inventory of consumption of ozone depleting substances. In 1995, was created in the MITIITN The Ozone Technical Office, responsible for control and monitoring of tasks aimed at the removal of the consumption of ozone depleting substances. To date has been achieved the approval of 26 projects for a total of approximately four million seven hundred thousand dollars, provided as a donation by the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol, the same that are intended for industrial reconversion of companies that use these substances, the installation of a National Network of Refrigerants Recovery and Recycling, and the establishment of a permit system for import / export, among others. 12
3. Vision of the future
Although air pollution, noise pollution, climate change and the depletion of the ozone layer in the stratosphere affect the community as a whole, children, the elderly and the poorest are the most vulnerable to its consequences. They are the ones who usually fill the capacity of hospitals and the network of public health services. The execution of basic and preventive actions at local level, with the community participation, would bring many benefits. Looking to the future it is important to establish a strategy that is based on the consideration that the development and progress of society rests on a proper enviromental management. Such management and care cannot be only exercised by the State through its regulatory agencies, or only by companies and their associations, but mainly requires the citizens’ initiative, democracy and local power.
1 The term “sick building syndrome” is used to describe situations in which building occupants experience certain acute health problems and discomfort apparently related to the use of the building, without being able to identify diseases or specific causes of such problems. This concept is in contrast to the “disease linked to a building” which is used when symptoms of diagnosable diseases are identified and are directly attributable to the airborne pollutants of the building. The indicators of a “sick building syndrome” may include: a) abundant complaints about symptoms associated with extreme discomfort, such as: headache; irritation of throat, nose or eyes; dry cough; dry skin; nausea and dizziness; difficulty in concentration; fatigue; sensitivity to odors, etc., b) ignorance of the causes of such symptoms, and c) most of the discomfort subside after a short time of leaving the building. http://es.careers.yahoo.com/010320/22/ycqy.html.
2 Building located in Abancay Avenue (Downtown Lima), a road with high traffic of motor vehicles.
3 The National Standard of Peru has no values for total suspended particles nor average values of one hour to sulfur dioxide.
4 According to the Regulation of National Standards of Environmental Air Quality. Supreme Decree No. 074-2001-PCM.
5 Data provided by the General Directorate of Environmental Health, 2000.
6 According to the Regulation of National Standards of Environmental Air Quality. Supreme Decree No. 074-2001-PCM.
7 immission is the concentration of a pollutant in the receiver, measured regardless of source which has originated them.
8 Climate change refers to an excessive increase in greenhouse gases leading to an increase in global temperature and consequently the melting of the polar icecaps, the elevation of the sea level, increase of natural disasters, threats to food production, etc. (for details, see chapter 5 p.173). Depletion of the ozone layer refers to the decrease in natural concentrations of ozone in the stratosphere with the consequent loss of filtration capacity of UV-B radiation; this brings adverse effects to human health, negative impacts on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, biological and genetic alterations, etc.
9 For further information check the website http://www.ipcc.ch.
10 For more information check the website http: //www.unep.org/ozone/mont_t.shtml.
11 Also see: CONAM, 1999; Geng, Justo, Montalvo and Morales, 1999; and Marticorena, and Morales, 2000.
12 For more information check the website http://www.oei.org.co/sii/entrega25/art06.htm.
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