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|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Good|| 25 US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in Bogota is currently 1.2 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
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|Tuesday, Nov 28|
Good 37 AQI US
|Wednesday, Nov 29|
Moderate 70 AQI US
|Thursday, Nov 30|
Moderate 52 AQI US
|Thursday, Nov 30|
Moderate 53 AQI US
Good 25 AQI US
|Saturday, Dec 2|
Moderate 57 AQI US
|Sunday, Dec 3|
Moderate 53 AQI US
|Monday, Dec 4|
Good 50 AQI US
|Tuesday, Dec 5|
Moderate 63 AQI US
|Wednesday, Dec 6|
Moderate 69 AQI US
|Thursday, Dec 7|
Moderate 71 AQI US
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Bogota, formerly known as Santa Fe de Bogota as well as Bogota, distrito capital (DC) is the capital city of Columbia, as well as being the cultural, political and economic heart of the country. It is home to some 7.4 million people as of 2018. The cities main airport, El Dorado international airport, is responsible for the largest volume of cargo shipping in the whole of Latin America.
With a large volume of people as well as being an economic hub, Bogota's air quality levels would undoubtably be affected by the mass movement of people and goods. Observing the readings taken over the last few years, Bogota came in with a PM2.5 reading of 13.1 μg/m³ in 2019, putting it into the ‘moderate’ ratings bracket, but only by a fine margin. The moderate rating requires a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 12.1 to 35.4 μg/m³ to be classified as such, so with its 2019 reading it was only 1.1 unit short of falling into the ‘good’ classification of air quality (10 to 12 μg/m³).
This reading of 13.1 μg/m³ put Bogota into 1510th place out of all the most polluted cities worldwide, as well as 9th place out of all countries ranked in Colombia. This reading shows that whilst Bogota's air quality is not perfect, it is faring considerably well for a capital city and has many months that fall within the World Health Organizations (WHO) target goal of 0 to 10 μg/m³, making its air quality of a good standard for many months, only being offset by a few months that came in with elevated readings.
Bogota has several offending sources of pollution, which are prominent enough to give the city some higher readings of PM2.5, despite having the good fortune of having an extremely high elevation (8660 feet above sea level) as well as high wind speeds that can blow away pollutive buildups.
However, with all these topographical features lending a hand in keeping Bogota's air clean, the vehicles populating the roads often counteract these natural benefits with their dire exhaust fume output. There are large numbers of cars and trucks on the road, many with extremely outdated engines running on diesel fuel that would be spewing out higher amounts of pollution and noxious fumes, so much so to the point that areas that see high levels of traffic often have elevated buildups of pollutants that can leave pedestrians caught in the rear of an old truck inhaling large amounts of highly dangerous gases, chemical compounds and fine particulate matter.
Besides the vehicles, other causes of pollution would include factories, including the numerous brick factories located in the far south, running on their own fossil fuels such as coal. These are the two main factors causing elevated levels of pollution, as well as highly detrimental ‘hotspots’ of traffic that can cause buildups of contaminated air, with disastrous effects on the health of anyone caught in these areas.
With a large amount of its pollution coming from sources such as cars, lorries and factories, they would mainly be based around the burning of fossil fuels. Vehicles, besides putting out PM2.5 and PM10, would release large amounts of gases such as nitrogen dioxide (N02) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), with nitrogen dioxide being the most prominent emission from vehicles, so much so to the point that ground or satellite readings that pick up high levels of nitrogen dioxide will often correlate directly with a high concentration of traffic and thus vehicle fumes.
Other air contaminants would include black carbon and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), both of which can be formed through the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels as well as organic matter (such as the burning of wood). Some examples of VOC’s include benzene and formaldehyde, all with a myriad of disastrous health effects, which will be discussed in short.
With elevated readings of PM2.5 and PM10 in the air, these tiny particles, often approximately 3% the size of a human hair, can make their way deep into the lung tissue as well as the blood stream, causing a whole host of issues. Within the lungs these fine particles, such as black carbon or even finely ground silica dust can cause scarring to the lung tissue and thus reduce their overall function. This can lead to earlier death rates, as well as causing many problems within the younger portion of the population due to their lungs not being able to take in enough oxygen, leading to developmental issues, both cognitive and physical.
Besides causing reduced lung function, PM2.5 such as black carbon as well as many of the gases emitted vehicles are also highly carcinogenic, leading to increased instances of cancer, particularly of the lungs. As mentioned, these tiny particles can enter the bloodstream via the lungs (crossing over via the alveoli or tiny air sacs responsible for oxygen delivery), and once inside can wreak havoc to many parts of the body. The hepatic and renal systems (liver and kidneys) can take damage, as well as the blood vessels also susceptible to negative side effects.
Reproductive health can also be affected, with lower fertility rates amongst those exposed to prolonged bouts of pollution. Pregnant mothers are particularly vulnerable, with exposure leading to increased rates of miscarriage, premature birth as well as the babies being delivered with a low birth weight, adding to infant mortality rates.
Observing the data taken over the last few years, Bogota came in with the best levels of air quality over the months of June through to September, with May, October and December also having ‘good’ readings in regards to their PM2.5 content.
June through to September all came in with readings that fell inside the WHO’s target goal of less than 10 μg/m³. The cleanest month of the year was July, with a PM2.5 reading of 5.7 μg/m³, followed closely by June at 6.2 μg/m³.
To finish, the months that saw the worst levels of air quality were February and March, with PM2.5 readings of 22 μg/m³ and 24.4 μg/m³ respectively, making March the most polluted month during the year of 2019 and indicative that Bogota, as well as Colombia as a whole, experiences its most polluted months at the beginning of the year.