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Under a silent death in Mexico
by Osvaldo Rocha
2014-01-21 11:24:30
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Not everything in Mexico is poverty, violence and drug trafficking when it comes to serious unsolved troubles. Pollution levels have increased in the country together with its population in the last decades, posing a major challenge to the local government and society, as well as a deadly menace to the most vulnerable.

osvaldo02_400Even though the local government has taken up some measures aimed at fighting pollution and using alternative means of transportation, Mexico is just second to Brazil in terms of deaths caused by pollution in Latin America, followed by countries like Ecuador and Bolivia. Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey, the three biggest Mexican cities, are clearly the most affected.

As occurred in many other countries, the air quality decreased in Mexico with the industrialization process that took off in the mid-twentieth century. It was no surprise when Mexico City came out as ‘the most polluted city on the planet’, according to the United Nations, in 1992. Since then, however, Mexico has given way to countries like China, India and Pakistan, where we find the most polluted cities of our time.

Even afer encouraging alternative means of transportation, there is still a long difficult way to go in order to make Mexico’s capital an inhabitable place, especially for children and other vulnerable people. Vehicles are still today a major source of pollution. Just to give an idea of the traffic situation, the average speed of cars in Mexico City is 4 km/h in the rush hour, while bicycles have an average speed of 10 km/h.

It has been documented that high air pollution carries along important health issues, such as cardiovascular and respiratory disease, premature birth and low birth weight, lung disease and cancer. It is no surprise then that this kind of pollution actually became the second leading cause of death among infants in Mexico, according to figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

It has been revealed that more and more children are born with allergic conditions, to the extent that air pollution by dangerous particles is the second leading cause of death for children from 0-6 days old and the seventh for all ages. In the past 10 years the number of children with low birth weight has increased by 50 percent, according to the Network for the Rights of Children in Mexico (REDIM). In fact, air pollution is responsible for 15 percent of deaths from pneumonia in children under five.

Pollution definitely diminishes the quality of life at any age, not to mention the elderly, but it is important to consider that those who were born after the 1950’s have always been exposed to an increasingly polluted air and such conditions have started to have health consequences, especially in combination with overweight, another great unsolved health problem in Mexico.


Osvaldo Rocha is a lecturer at different Mexican universities and a freelance translator of English, German and Scandinavian languages. He studied international politics in Mexico and Norse literature in Iceland, and is a contributor to publications from Latin America, North America, Europe and Asia.


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Leah Sellers2014-01-22 03:27:14
Dear Senor Oswaldo,
Mexico is a Beautiful country, filled with warm and Familial People.
Sir, when hiking around in the Chisos Mountains inside Big Ben National Park, after struggling up to one of its highest promitories, my friends and I were astonished at the amount of Smog - Pollution we saw creeping toward the Park's Valleys from Mexico.
With all of the new Trade deals being crammed down everyone's throats these days, it is imperative that the World - probably through the UN - start Agreeing upon Universal Climate Change (Pollution) Policies, and Food Intake, Outake and Production Policies. Otherwise we will all find ourselves with Dis-eases of the Body and Mind which will be our UnDoing. There is no excuse to put Universal Agreements like these off between All Nations any longer. The Corporate Financial Machines are marching right on over all of us with these Trade deals with no Protections or real Concerns for the Folks who are supposed to be using and or/eating what's being Traded, Bought and Sold. This is a Foreseeable Wreck that can be avoided.
Thank you for your informational report, Sir.

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