The three students present their air quality findings. The three students present their air quality findings.

Cancún air contains heavy metals that exceed safe levels

The city is required to have air-quality monitoring stations, but has none

A study has found that air pollution in Cancún from lead, zinc and other heavy metals is at times similar to that in Mexico City and Madrid, Spain.

Completed by three students of the University of the Caribbean, the study determined that cars, industry and environmental factors are responsible for the poor air quality in the resort city.

Presenting their findings yesterday, Mara Flores Moreno, Cinthia Pech Perera and Denisse Sánchez Toriz said they measured air quality at 40 different locations.

Heavy metals were detected in the air at every single site, and at certain times of the day the levels exceeded those considered safe by environmental authorities.

The students said that they detected cadmium, nickel, copper and boron in the samples they collected in the west of the city, while air in the downtown was found to contain copper, zinc, lithium, chromium and lead.

Lead, lithium, zinc and boron were detected in Cancún’s hotel zone.

The environmental engineering students recommended the installation of at least three permanent air-quality monitoring stations in different parts of the city.

According to federal regulations, all cities with a population greater than 500,000 are required to have such stations. But despite close to one million people calling Cancún home, the city has none.

At yesterday’s presentation, state Environment Secretary Alfredo Arellano Guillermo acknowledged that Cancún has an air pollution problem although he said that the situation wasn’t critical.

He said that later this month he will present a new air quality management plan intended to reduce the quantity of contaminants entering the atmosphere in Cancún and across the state.

The plan will promote the planting of native trees and greater use of bicycles and public transit among other measures.

Source: El Universal (sp), La Jornada (sp)

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