Chilean capital suspends heavy industry and takes cars off road to deal with smog crisis

Santiago is facing an air pollution crisis

Jon Stone
Monday 22 June 2015 11:46 BST
Santiago, the capital city of Chile
Santiago, the capital city of Chile (Creative Commons)

The Chilean government has suspended much heavy industry and taken cars off the road in the country’s capital to curb an environmental emergency in there.

Air pollution in Santiago has got so bad that the country’s Environment Ministry has had to issue an environmental state of emergency warning.

More than 900 industries have been suspended and about 40 per cent of the capital's 1.7 million cars have been taken off the road as a temporary measure.

Apart from the high man-made emissions levels, officials are blaming unusual weather conditions for the deadly smog.

“We're currently facing unusual conditions, with one of the driest Junes in over 40 years as well as really bad air circulation conditions in the Santiago valley in recent days, which boosts the concentration of contamination,” the Environment Ministry said in a statement reported by the Reuters .

People in the greater Santiago area have been advised to avoid outdoor exercise – a warning which has coincided with the country’s hosting of the Copa America football tournament.

The football tournament may have been part of the reason the authorities are so keen to deal with the smog, though this has not been confirmed.

In March the French government banned half of Paris’s cars from the road as a temporary measure to deal with smog.

In that country, cars with odd numbers and even numbered ending registrations were alternatively banned from the road.

The measure was announced to be successful and quickly withdrawn.

London suffers from crippling air pollution with one in 12 deaths in the capital linked to its smog.

The capital’s main shopping street, Oxford Street, breached its legal air pollution limit for the whole of 2015 just four days into January.

In April the UK Supreme Court ordered the Government to draw up a immediate action plan to end the country’s illegal and dangerous pollution levels.

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