An air pollution warning has once again been declared for the Santiago region on Monday, June 12. Driving and industry restrictions are in effect. Cars without green pollution rating stickers (sello verde) whose license plates end in 5, 6, 7, or 8, are not permitted on the roads between the hours of 07:30 and 21:00 (local time). 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.
Health officials have warned that increased pollution could cause eye, nose, and throat irritation and aggravate cardiovascular and respiratory conditions (such as asthma). The government is advising against all outdoor exercise and is recommending that schools cancel physical education classes. Vulnerable individuals - e.g. children, seniors, pregnant women, and people suffering from asthma and other respiratory issues - should be particularly cautious and consider wearing masks covering the nose and mouth when outdoors.
The current pollution alert could be renewed or upgraded in the coming days if air quality does not improve.
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 and 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 limit outdoor activity and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities.