A “pre-emergency” air pollution warning has been issued for the Santiago region for Monday, July 10. Driving restrictions are in effect; cars without green pollution rating stickers (sello verde) whose license plates end in 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 0, along with cars with sello verde stickers whose license plates end in 5 or 6, are not permitted on the roads between the hours of 07:30 and 21:00 (local time). Furthermore, some lanes on city roads will be temporarily converted to bus-only lanes. These measures have been implemented throughout Santiago province as well as in the communes of Puente Alto and San Bernardo.
Additionally, a total ban on all wood-burning stoves, ovens, and agricultural fires is in place in the Santiago Metropolitan Region. High polluting industries will also be forced to suspend activities as long as the pre-emergency alert remains in effect.
Health officials have warned that increased pollution could cause eye, nose, and throat irritation and aggravate cardiovascular and respiratory conditions (such as asthma). While certain groups are particularly vulnerable - e.g. children, seniors, pregnant women, and people suffering from asthma and other respiratory issues - this level of pollution is high enough to affect the general population as well. Vulnerable individuals are advised to avoid all outdoor activities (and wear masks covering their nose and mouth when outdoors) and other individuals should avoid all strenuous outdoor activities.
The capital region has been plagued by numerous occasions of high air pollution levels since late May. The current alert could be renewed into the coming days.
Air pollution levels are generally high in Santiago, home to seven million inhabitants (40 percent of the national population), due to the city’s location deep in a valley in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, as well as significant traffic congestion. Population levels tend to rise in the (southern hemisphere) fall and winter period. A mobile telephone application called “Aire Santiago” is available (in Spanish) for download and informs users of air pollution levels and associated restrictions in real-time. It has become one of the most-downloaded apps in the country.
Individuals present in the capital region are advised to monitor the situation in the coming days, limit outdoor activity, and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities.