Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Wednesday urged state and federal authorities to take measures to control air pollution, after the government declared an environmental emergency earlier this week due to severe air contamination.
The government of Mexico City, which is home to over 20 million people, driving five million cars, said the area surrounding the capital city suffered its third consecutive day of extreme air pollution, with the high concentration of ozone in the air reaching its highest level in 13 years.
“Sadly, the air quality, particularly in the Valley of Mexico, has been badly deteriorating over the last months and years,” Pena Nieto said at a public ceremony, referring to the region that surrounds the capital city.
“We need to go further, be braver and particularly be more determined to make sure that from now on, and over the next years, we avoid having a contaminated atmosphere that puts at risk the health of the people who live in this great megalopolis,” he added.
On Monday, Mexico City’s government said the emergency stemmed from an “extraordinary increase” in ozone concentration due to the presence of a high pressure system and intense solar radiation around greater Mexico City.
Ozone, which is a key ingredient of smog, is a form of oxygen created by the reaction of sunlight with air containing other pollutants such as hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide.
It can cause breathing difficulties and worsen heart disease. Children and the elderly are especially at risk.