Santiago, Chile in ‘state of environmental emergency’

22 Jun 2015

An explosion in smoggy air in Chile’s capital city Santiago has seen the country’s environment department issue a State of Environmental Emergency.

It’s the first emergency of its kind in Chile since 1999 and will see more than 900 businesses forced to close and up to 40pc of the capital’s 1.7m cars off the road.

“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, as reported on Reuters.

The restrictions stand for today at the moment but can be extended beyond their 24-hour issuing if no improvement to current conditions is apparent.

Breathable air in the city is at a level below what it allows, with particulate matter known as PM2.5 shrouding the city.

The range at which an emergency is called comes into effect when the air quality index, considered good at 0-50, reaches hazardous levels as it tops 500.

According top, student sports will be put on hold for now “and public bus-only lanes will be opened on local roads under the measures”.

Interestingly Chile is currently hosting the Copa America, South America’s international football tournament.

Santiago smog image, via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic