IR POLLUTION AND HEALTH IN MEGACITIES
FROM THE DEVELOPING WORLD
(CALIDAD DEL AIRE Y SALUD EN MEGACIUDADES DEL MUNDO EN DESARROLLO)
In Metropolitan areas of developing and transition-economies countries, air pollution has become a serious problem which is most pronounced in highly structured areas. Major contributors to air pollution are emissions of highly reactive and/or toxic substances. Because of the expected changes in urban population, standard of living, energy demand, climate change, transportation issues, economy and land use changes associated with urban sprawl the air quality in Megacities may even decline further.
As air pollution can reach levels leading to ecological and socioeconomic negative consequences and intolerable health risks, the implementation of mitigation and adaptation measures are required on urban and regional scales. Directly emitted and photochemically produced pollutants in combination with severe meteorological situations like low inversion layers, stagnant wind conditions can create essential health risks (e.g. respiratory diseases, irritations and allergic reactions as well as cancer).
Particulate matter (PM) is one of the major pollutants that affect air quality in urban and rural areas of the world. PM is a complex mixture of solid and liquid particles that vary in size and composition, and remain suspended in the air. PM with aerodynamic diameters less than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) can cause respiratory and lung diseases and even premature death.
Atmospheric aerosols include both natural and anthropogenic sources and play also an important role in climate processes. Emissions from Metropolitan areas are also the major global sources of environmentally important pollutants and thus are significant contributors to climate change by interactions on regional/continental scales. In the vicinity of conurbations the anthropogenic/biogenic emissions lead to high concentrations of secondary pollutants. The characteristics of these emissions (e.g. composition, heterogeneity, variability) and the processes leading to the corresponding spatial distribution of the air pollutants have severe impact on human health and are not well known. Therefore only interdisciplinary and holistic approaches can give solutions in order to improve the air quality and quality of life in urban agglomerations.
Results of the assessment of the air pollution and its health impact in urban agglomerations like Santiago de Chile, Mexico City and Beijing will be presented.
Dr. Peter Suppan