Monday, April 22, 2013

Air quality Bogotá

                                                   (source of a photo: New York times website) 

Bogotá, Colombia was a city with a severe pollution and air quality problem. Many measuring devices were put up around the city to measure particulate matter, ozone and nitrogen dioxide levels and all three frequently exceeded the standards set in place by the Departamento Técnico Administrativo del Medio Ambiente). The most concerning air pollutant in Bogotá is particulate matter including PM10 and PM2.5. Bogotá has given much efforts to reach the international standard of PM10. Estimated annual PM2.5 is higher than US-EPA annual standard.

Not only were these levels severe for any major city, Bogotá is also at an exceptionally high altitude, which can affect the accuracy of particulate matter measurements and comparisons, making it difficult to construct country, region, and worldwide standards. There was a recent publication called “Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter (PM) at high altitude cities,” which calculated correction factors for high altitude cities in Latin America for measuring particulate matter.

According to “Challenges in Bogota Air Quality: Policies and Technology,” there have been some solid findings in regards to the effects of Bogotá’s poor air quality. High emission rates and steady meteorological condition due to the location at high elevation significantly affect on the health of children and elderly people. By June 2006, air pollution had been attributed to 80 children’s (younger than 5) deaths in Bogotá and it was determined that there was an 8% increase in the number of hospital visits for respiratory illness in children less than 14 years old when the PM10 concentration increased by 10 ug/m³ in the city.

The emission inventory developed for the city's air quality model in 2002 showed that industrial sources produced 64% of the total particular matter emissions, and moving sources emitted the remaining 36%. Point sources can produce emission without emission control devices, and most of them do not have any programs for reducing and preventing polluted emissions. Buses of TransMilenio use diesel fuel because of economical productivity and high altitude although it uses more efficient engines compared to old buses which means the new buses produce less pollutants. The concentration of PM10 dropped 54% when the strike of a public transportation was happened. Situations got worse with the use of diesel as a dominant fuel of high duty vehicles. It is researched that diesel vehicles produce more than 50% of total PM10.

Here is the hope of cleaner air in Bogotá. Dust, soot, and smoke from diesel vehicles had been reduced by 28% from 2008 to 2011 in order to meet the international standard. Public started being concerning on poor air quality and the health impact of a polluted air. Academia and news media are urging a national government to improve diesel quality. The Secretary of the Environment established measures such as inspection and maintenance programs for vehicles, substitute fuel use, on-road identification of vehicles producing much emissions, educational programs for drivers, and restricted use of vehicles during peak hours.



1. Bravo, Alvarez H, Echeverria R. Sosa, Alvarez P. Sanchez, and S Krupa. "Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter (pm) at High Altitude Cities." Environmental Pollution. 173 (2013): 255-256. Print.

2. Zarate, E, Belalcazar L. Carlos, A Clappier, V Manzi, and den B. H. Van. "Air Quality Modelling Over Bogota, Colombia: Combined Techniques to Estimate and Evaluate Emission Inventories." Atmospheric Environment. 41.29 (2007): 6302-6318. Print.

1. David Beltran, Luis Carlos Belalcazar, Nestor Rojas;


  1. Interesting findings! Do you know if they have made any notable progress in their goals recently?

    1. According to an article titled Bogota greenest cit in Latin America(I put a website address), there were some progress reported by the Colombian capital’s Tourism Department. Between 2008 and 2011, dust, soot, and smoke from diesel vehicles dropped from 71.6 mg/m3 in 2008 to 51.5 mg/m3 in 2011, representing a 28% reduction. Also, there was a 23% reduction in the mortality rate from acute respitory infections in children under five from 2007 to 2010.


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