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Mexico City may be backsliding on air pollution

A sharp increase in ozone levels is occurring in Mexico City despite anti-pollution efforts. (Javier Garcia /

Mexico City’s air is generally regarded as much cleaner than it was 20 years ago, when locals complained that breathing was akin to smoking. But now ozone is back to hazardous levels, Monica Campbell reports for PRI.

The city has responded by restricting some vehicles from its roads based on license plate numbers and temporarily closing schools and nurseries. Authorities also plan to strengthen vehicle emissions testing in Mexico City beginning in July, Anthony Harrup reports here for the Wall Street Journal.

Despite a ban on leaded gas, the introduction of more public transit and the relocation of oil refineries, “things seem to be backsliding,” PRI says. Population expansion has pushed more residents to the suburbs, boosting reliance on cars. An estimated 200,000 vehicles are added to the city’s roads annually.

Mexico City officials emphasize that pollution standards are more rigorous today and that air quality warnings are issued earlier, Campbell reports. They also note that China’s air is far more dangerous. According to the WSJ, long-term goals include vapor recovery technology for gas pumps and the conversion of diesel-belching buses to natural gas. 


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