Recent fires in and around Mexico City continue to cause severe air contamination in the capital and the broader Valley of Mexico, leading authorities to warn residents to take precautions to avoid respiratory illnesses.
The Environmental Commission of the Megalopolis (Came) said in a statement yesterday that more than 20 fires had been reported in Mexico City including 13 brush fires, four blazes on vacant lots, two house fires, a forest fire and an inferno at an industrial warehouse.
The boroughs of Tlalpan, Iztapalapa, Gustavo A. Madero, Milpa Alta, Álvaro Obregón, Magdalena Contreras, Cuauhtémoc and Xochimilco were all affected.
Authorities in México state have reported 30 fires in 27 municipalities, the commission said. One blaze occurred at a plastic and cardboard factory in Huixquilucan, a municipality just outside Mexico City’s official limits.
There was also an explosion at a fireworks warehouse in the municipality of Tultepec that left one person dead and four others injured
In addition, fires in Guerrero and Oaxaca are also contributing to “the transport of contaminants towards the Valley of Mexico,” Came said.
The commission explained that a high-pressure system and a lack of wind are “creating a favorable atmosphere for the accumulation of contaminants.” Hot and dry conditions in the capital are also exacerbating the situation.
Came reported high levels of solid particles, such as ash, in the Valley of Mexico atmosphere and advised people to keep the doors and windows of their homes closed and to remain indoors.
For people who live near the fire locations, the commission recommended covering window and door cracks with moist cloths and the use of face masks, among a range of other measures.
It also urged people to restrict vehicle use, not to cook over an open fire and generally avoid generating contaminating emissions.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said today that the commission’s environmental alert would remain in place until the contamination dissipates.
In a Twitter post, she said that “even though we haven’t reached an environmental contingency, the Environmental Commission of the Megalopolis will be issuing three alerts a day.”
The mayor told a press conference that the levels of contamination are currently not high enough to activate additional restrictions on vehicles but explained that the situation would be reassessed tomorrow and if necessary, “measures will be taken.”
At 6:00pm today, the worst air quality in the Valley of Mexico was reported at Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, México state.
Mexico City’s Atmospheric Monitoring System detected pollution levels of 144 points in the municipality on its index known as Imeca, which means that the air quality is considered “bad.” An environmental contingency is declared if the index reaches 151 points.
A majority of Mexico City’s 16 boroughs are also currently suffering from “bad” quality air.
Since January 1, 2019 to today – a total of 133 days – the air in the metropolitan area of Mexico City has only been considered clean on nine days, according to Imeca.
Yesterday, fires burning in and around the capital as well as in southern states caused Mexico to rank third worst in the world for air quality behind Turkey and China, according to the World Air Quality Index (WAQI), which monitors contamination levels in real time.
Breathing air in parts of Mexico where high levels of contaminants were recorded yesterday was considered “dangerous,” WAQI said.