Greenpeace places respirator mask on Buenos Aires statue to protest pollution

    17 de mayo de 2018

    Buenos Aires, May 17 (efe-epa).- Greenpeace placed a respirator mask on a statue located in front of the Argentine congress in Buenos Aires to protest the city's bad air quality and the lack of a proper air pollution measuring system.

    Early Thursday morning, several activists climbed the 23-meter monument symbolizing the republic to demand "clean air" and a public transit system based on renewable energy.

    "The government's air quality measuring system is inadequate. There are only three sensors that do not measure all of the harmful pollutants," Ingo Boltz, spokesperson of the campaign, told EFE.

    Boltz said that other large Latin American cities such as Santiago de Chile, Bogota and Sao Paulo have 10 or more air pollution sensors.

    A 2017 study carried out by Greenpeace, Argentina's National Scientific and Technical Research Council and the Institute of Chemical Physics for Materials, Environment and Energy revealed that there are several areas in Buenos Aires where air pollution levels are above the recommended thresholds set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

    According to Boltz, the local government "is not really concerned" about air quality, an issue that he considers should be "a priority" since, according to the WHO, air pollution worldwide is linked to 7 million premature deaths per year.

    Air pollution "is not only an annoyance, it causes serious cardiovascular diseases, as well as lung cancer," Boltz said, adding that Buenos Aires' buses still run on diesel, which creates "carcinogenic pollutants."

    This is why Greenpeace is urging local authorities to create an electric public transit system, which would be cheaper and less detrimental to people's health.

    Greenpeace also criticized changes to the waste management law made by Argentina's governing party, which allows the establishment of waste incineration plants.

    "We are burning oil and fossil fuels where we live and where we commute. We must make an effort to make citizens' lives healthier," Boltz added.