Due to a greater circulation of cars, air pollution in the City of Buenos Aires returned to the same values ​​prior to the coronavirus quarantine (Adrián Escandar)

A study by the Faculty of Agronomy of the UBA detected that, due to a greater circulation of cars, air pollution in the City of Buenos Aires returned to pre-quarantine values ​​due to coronavirus, after having fallen to minimal figures towards the end of March.

When the Covid-19 quarantine was established in March, the levels of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and solid particles smaller than 10 microns dropped their concentration to 70%.

However, « That deep blue in the sky did not last long: in mid-May, vehicular traffic increased and pollution returned to ‘normal values‘”Says Leonardo Serio, a researcher at the UBA’s Faculty of Agronomy who analyzed the city’s air quality and warned about the need for more and better measurements.

“The idea was to study air quality in CABA before and after the COVID-19 quarantine was established. For this, I compared the period from March 1 to May 31 of this year with the same period in 2019, ”he added.

« As indicators, » explained Serio, professor at the Fauba Department of Agricultural Climatology and Phenology, « I took three pollutants that in high concentrations can be harmful to health, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and solid particles. less than 10 microns ”, he detailed.

The results -disseminated by Sobre La Tierra, the Scientific and Technological Dissemination Service on Agronomy and Environment of Fauba- showed that in the first ten days of the quarantine there was a notable drop in the concentration of the three pollutants, compared to « normal » levels.

The decrease was 70% in nitrogen oxides, 30% in carbon monoxide and 40% in particulate matter. This was maintained for the last 10 days of March and throughout April, except for N oxides, which later narrowed the difference to 40%.

“What is striking is that this phenomenon only lasted until the end of April. As of May, the concentration of the three pollutants returned to normal pre-quarantine values, which has to do directly with the increase in vehicle traffic in the city, ”he insisted.

During the end of March and all of April, the decrease was 70% in nitrogen oxides, 30% in carbon monoxide and 40% in particulate matter. (. / Matias Baglietto) (MATIAS BAGLIETTO /)

The level of air pollution in the City of Buenos Aires is -according to Serio- much lower than in other large Latin American cities such as Mexico and São Paulo, something that is explained in part by its geographical location.

Others -such as Santiago de Chile and Bogotá-, despite being smaller, have serious pollution problems due to their geographical condition, they are less likely to mix and ‘clean’ the air, said the teacher and specified that « at the In light of comparison, the air in CABA is quite good ”.

For 10 years, the Buenos Aires government has continuously measured the air quality in three places in the city, with automatic stations that conform to the international standards of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. These monitoring points are located in the neighborhoods of Caballito, San Nicolás and La Boca. Since 2018, a fourth station was added in Villa Soldati.

In this regard, the specialist considered: « This number of stations would be insufficient if we compare ourselves with other cities in Latin America: Santiago de Chile has a network with 13 measurement stations, Bogotá also has 13 and Mexico has more than 20 ».

« In addition, » he added, « it is not only a matter of quantity, in CABA we do not have official records of measurements of particulate matter less than 2.5 microns, which is the most harmful to health, nor are ozone or dioxide data published. sulfur ”, concluded Serio.

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