Environmental justice and air quality in Santiago de Chile
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Objective The metropolitan region in Santiago, Chile has an air quality problem. However, the larger issue may lie in the inequities created by the distribution of the air pollution.Methods To assess the inequities created by the spatial differences in air pollution, the author analyzed fine particle pollution levels for 2008-2011 at monitoring stations throughout the region. The author also compared air quality data with socioeconomic data.Results The areas of the Santiago metropolitan region with the worst air quality have lower socioeconomic levels. Pollution in these areas reaches levels higher than the current Chilean 24 hour standard for fine particles. These areas also have longer time periods of unhealthy air and 21 % more days with unhealthy levels of air pollution.Discussion The differences in exposure to pollution create an inequality and environmental injustice among the socioeconomic groups in the metropolitan region. Chilean policymakers have the regulatory tools needed to improve environmental justice. However, they need to improve the implementation of these tools in order to achieve that goal: Chilean policy makers should consider local sources of air pollution in the most polluted municipalities; Government decision makers should make extra efforts to listen to the community and improve access to environmental information; Environmental justice advocates should involve stakeholders from the social justice movement and other related areas; Policy makers should track progress towards environmental justice by evaluating differences in health outcomes related to differential exposure to air pollution in different parts of the Santiago metropolitan area.
- Revista de Salud Pública