Latin America: challenges in urban transport due to nanoparticles

One of the main causes of air pollution is vehicle traffic. Vehicles emit ultra-small, highly toxic nanoparticles. Swisscontact has many years’ experience in transport and environmental projects. As part of the Climate and Clean Air in Latin American Cities (CALAC+) programme, Swisscontact is collaborating with local decision-makers in Latin America to reduce traffic pollution.

More than 150 million people in Latin American live in cities where air pollution levels exceed the limits set by the World Health Organization (WHO). Air pollution represents a threat to both health and the climate. It is estimated to have adverse effects on the gross domestic product of between 2 and 4 per cent in these countries. The emission of nanoparticles from traffic is causing the greatest concern. Nanoparticles are so small that they react with DNA and can increase the risk of cancer.

The CALAC+ programme supports initiatives to reduce these emissions in urban traffic, as vehicles are one of the main sources of air pollution. CALAC+ is financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and implemented by Swisscontact.

Mass transit and emissions

Bogotá, Mexico City, Lima, and Santiago de Chile have focused their efforts to reduce ultrafine particles in two main areas: the quality of fuel and introducing standards for the emission of ultrafine particles. Regarding emissions standards, cities like Bogotá, Mexico City, and Santiago de Chile are demanding the same standards for new urban transportation buses like those in the EU. To support these efforts, CALAC+ is helping government officials and stakeholders to introduce clean technologies in urban transport to, thus, decrease the number of air-polluting vehicles. This will be achieved by implementing standard procedures to measure nanoparticles.

The programme is also supporting the creation of a regional and global network to exchange best practices through which the experience of experts from Switzerland and other countries will be shared.


Publicado en noticias / news.

Cuba, La Habana. Investigador Titular del Centro de Investigaciones Pesqueras, doctor en Ciencias en el Uso, Manejo y Preservación de los Recursos, y maestro en Ciencias del Agua.

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