Environmental alerts in Colombia would be Venezuela's fault

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The burning of biomass in the oil country would be affecting the quality of the air of the coffee nation and producing high levels of pollution

Environmental alerts in Colombia would be Venezuela's fault

In recent months, big cities in Colombia, such as Bogotá and Medellín, have declared environmental alerts due to the particulate and contaminant material found in the air. In fact, Bogota registered a yellow wing for the first time.

Leer en español: Las alertas ambientales en Colombia serían culpa de Venezuela

The capital was highly affected and the inhabitants of six localities had to wear face masks to avoid breathing contaminated air. Additionally, cars and motorcycles had restrictions to circulate during weekends in order to improve air quality. In Medellín, the situation is even more complicated and the local authorities decreed the restriction of vehicles from February 18 until March 30.

Although the alerts are product of the mixture certain factors, such as El Niño phenomenon and forest fires, a study revealed that one of the likely causes could be the burning of biomass in Venezuela. Researchers from Universidad Nacional de Colombia found that, in cities like Arauca and Yopal, which are 300 km away, there were similar concentrations of PM10.

According to Rodrigo Jiménez, a professor at that University, in statements collected by El Espectador, the fact that these cities had similar measurements among themselves despite the distance and that those metrics wer similar to those in Bogotá shows that there is a common origin.

El Espectador points out that "it seems that the burning of biomass from the neighboring country would be part of the origin of environmental pollution alerts in some Colombian cities, since besides Bogotá it is also affecting Medellín and Bucaramanga, because the particulate material and other atmospheric pollutants generated by these fires are swept away by the trade winds, which go from east to west and impact regions of the Eastern Cordillera, including the Central."

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Ana María Hernández, in charge of the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (Ideam) of the air quality in Colombia, in the company of the doctoral student of Chemical Engineering at Universidad Nacional, Luis Alberto Morales, studied the emission data of PM10. They found that the emissions produced by biomass are 10 times greater than those produced by agriculture, transport, and oil production.

"The burning of biomass in the Colombian-Venezuelan Llanos annually consumes about 3 million hectares, an area equivalent to 50% of the area sown in Colombia, and produces around 140,000 tons of particulate material, at least 4 times the annual emission in Bogotá", says the same media.

The call up attention of the researchers is for the intermediate cities to comply with the corresponding environmental protocols and to monitor the burning of biomass.

LatinAmerican Post | Marcela Peñaloza
Translated from "Las alertas ambientales en Colombia serían culpa de Venezuela"

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