The high pollution levels that have been choking Mexico City for the last week will continue through the weekend, according to an analysis by climate scientists at the National Autonomous University of México (UNAM).
UNAM atmospheric sciences researcher Graciela Lucía Raga told reporters at a press conference yesterday that winds are bringing wildfire smoke to the capital from other parts of the country. But a high-pressure area or anticyclone in the Valley of México is preventing the dispersal of pollutants.
“The anticyclone is a circulation from the Pacific towards the east and north of the city, which generates this cycle that prevents dispersal of pollutants, including PM2.5 and ozone,” she said.
Raga added that even if it rains, air quality will not improve until suspended particles are dispersed.
“There will be a minor change on Saturday, May 18, because of moderate wind,” she said.
Current air quality conditions. Green is good, yellow normal and orange is bad.
To address the situation, the Environmental Commission of the Megalopolis (Came) will extend the Extraordinary Environmental Contingency, which means cancelled classes at schools and universities and strict driving restrictions.
The “Hoy no circula” or “no-drive days” policy prohibits vehicles from being driven on certain days based on their license plates. The emergency measure takes twice as many vehicles off the road as usual.
Climate scientist and Came advisor Adrián Fernández said that since the environmental contingencies of 2016, Mexico City has had the necessary information to create policies to lower air pollution levels.
But, he said, “There was no political will to make decisions, some of which were going to be unpopular. We need to generate financial mechanisms to invest in measures that will help solve Mexico City’s air pollution problem at its root.”
Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum told El Universal that she will announce a new set of policies next week to improve air quality. She would not say if the new policies will include toughening restrictions on drivers.
“We need to create consensus not only between the governments, but also with the private sector and the automotive sector,” she said.