"Pollution Kills 100,000 Children In Mexico City Each Year" (THEME)

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Harel Barzilai

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Jun 19, 1991, 3:21:00 AM6/19/91
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Pollution Kills 100,000 Children In Mexico City Each Year
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>From the Mexico city daily _Excelsior_, by Patricia Saad Sotomayor

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100,000 children die every year as a result of pollution in the Mexico
City metropolitan area, 250,000 people suffer from eye diseases,
between 2 and 10% of minors below the age of 16 suffer from asthma, 5
million people suffer respiratory diseases, and life expectancy has
been reduced by up to ten years, according to the National
Environmentalist Groups.

In a reports to President Salinas de Gortari, the environmentalists
called for the elimination of sulphur, leaded tetraethylene, and other
impurities from fuels. They underlined that while the government has
insisted that 70% of environmental pollution in Mexico city is cuased
by vehicles, "our common sense tells us that this is not true.
Because, according to the UN:

Tokyo has 0.01% contamination;
Toronto, 0%
Montreal 1%,
Milan 2.5%
New York 4.5%,
Los Angeles 2.5,
Turin 2.5,
Genoa 2.5,
while Mexico is 97.5% polluted

[Ed note: shocking, but it's true. See, for example, "In a Few Years,
Smog could make Ghost Town", Chicago Tribune, 11/15/88, page 6]

That is 20 times more polluted than New York."

They noted that in Los Angeles there are two or three times more
vehicles than in Mexico city.

"What causes the terrible pollution in Mexico City? Mexican and
international scientists and environmentalists say the main culprit is
the fuels produced by Pemex." The environmentalists noted that in
Yokohama, an industrial city near Tokyo, the Japanese government
controlled pollution and reduced it to zero after reaching an
agreement with 11,000 businesses. But in Mexico, they say, corruption
and the production of prohibited substances are the cause of the
pollution.

"Pemex does not purify its fuels of two lethal substances which are
prohibited in the rest of the world, lead and sulfur. These heavy
substances prevent the smog from rising, which is why we have to
breathe it day after day. If Pemex was cleaned up, the smog would rise
and be blown away by the Jet Stream which flower continually above the
Valley of Mexico...

"Because of the ozone caused by incomplete combustion of the very bad
Pemex gasoline, citizens suffer from fatigue, a decline in motor
coordination, and eye problems. Because of the lead, which Pemex adds
to the gasoline... we suffer from anemia, gastric problems, weakness,
insomnia, apathy, nausea, anxiety, muscular weakness, chronic diarrhea
and dryness of the mouth, nose and throat, among other problems.
[Note: again, see the above cited article for such lists of documented
health problems due to the pollution. These lists are quite serious]

"And because of the 3 or 4% of sulphus that Pemex includes in each
liter of fuel, we suffer headaches, migraines, and fatigue, as
sulphur-hydrates are very damaging and there are penalties of up to 30
years in prison for those who use it in other parts of the world" - -

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The above article was taken from:

Latin America News Update [Vol. 6, #1 (69), January, 1990 edition] ;
see the resource file listing of publications --

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Subject: Stats clarification (Pollution Kills 100,000 Children In Mexico...)
>In article <Apr.28.08.00...@elbereth.rutgers.edu>
> bsch...@elbereth.rutgers.edu (Trashy) writes:
>>Now please explain, somebody, what these numbers _actually_
>>represent. What the hell does "97.5% polluted" mean?
>Good question.

A (partial) clarification of the pollution index, from the article "In
a few years, smog could make ghost town", Chicago Tribune, p. 6,
Tuesday, November 15, 1988:

First, about the index given, they don't explain how exactly it's
calculated, but it was formulated by none other than the United
Nations, so you know where to write if you want the details; further,
it shines some light on the gravity of the 97.5 index given to Mexico
City:

"A 1984 United National pollution scale, which set 100 as the maximum
level before grave health problems begin, put New York City at 4.5 and
Mexico City at 97.5...Because of the pollution, the U.S. Embassy
offers employees a choice of 10 percent hardship pay or one year of
early retirement for each three-year stint in Mexico..."

Another index was given:

"..On Sept. 11, ozone trapped under an atmospheric thermal inversion
over the Valley of Mexico measured 297 on a metropolitan air quality
index, the highest one-day level of air-contamination in the nation's
history.

"The World Health Organization considers an ozone reading of 300 to be
an extremely dangerous health risk that can cause memory loss and
respiratory and cardiovascular problems"

This article enumerates some of the principal pollutants: lead, carbon
monoxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrocarbons and mercury -these emissions
are increasing at the rate of 8 percent per year according to Alfonso
Villareal, president of the Mexican Ecology Movement.

Also, the "ghost town" prediction was by a Reagan admin.
official:

"`The air quality in Mexico City is now causing a serious
deterioration in the quality of life, and it is becoming a limiting
factor to the future of the city,' said Dr. William Mills, a member of
President Reagan's Council on Environmental Quality.

"`In five years, there's a definite possibility that it will be
uninhabitable by people,' said Mills, who visited the city this
summer..."

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