Unlikely Solution Reducing Air Pollution in Peru


SEATTLE — With a population of just over 30 million people and counting, Peru, like many overpopulated developing countries, is facing trouble with its environment. Air pollution in Peru is a serious problem that is constantly being studied in order to understand the cause and how to reduce it.

Some of the environmental factors attributed to the decline in the population’s health include air pollution from the use of firewood for cooking, lack of access to clean water and exposure to lead from pipes. These environmental issues cause 12 million cases of illness yearly, affecting the lives of the young, the elderly and the poor.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Lima, Peru ranks as one of the worst cities in Latin America for air quality. A normal level of concentration for inhalable particles (PM), classified by the WHO, is an average of 10 micrograms per cubic meter. If the concentration exceeds this number, the contamination will cause the air to become polluted and harmful to breathe. Lima received a rating of 38 PM micrograms per square meter, which is more than three times the limit recommended by the health agency.

The Peruvian government has not been able to quickly respond to these serious environmental challenges because the country does not have any governmental organizations that have a clear sense of responsibility for environmental preservation and lacks a reliable system of information to support the government’s decision-making process when it comes to environmental concerns.

The University of Engineering and Technology of Peru (UTEC) has taken a step towards reducing air pollution in Peru with the incorporation of an innovative air purifying billboard in Lima. Located at a construction site, the air-purifying billboard filters 3.5 million cubic feet of fresh oxygen a day, which is equivalent to about 1,200 trees. The technology attached to the structure absorbs the air pollutants, filters it using thermodynamics made possible by a water system, and returns pure oxygen back into the atmosphere.

The billboard also conserves resources, running on recycled water and at about 2,500 watts per hour. Its design absorbs construction materials like dust and metal particles. which improves the air quality for construction workers and the surrounding residents.

UTEC’s innovative contribution may prove to be a model that can be replicated in urban centers in order to tackle the challenges related to air pollution in Peru. By using a platform that is mainly used for advertising, UTEC has created a reason for private companies to want to invest in the billboard technology and also a marketable way for companies and construction sites to take ownership of the pollutants they produce.

Strengthening some of the environmental laws and regulations in Peru, paired with private investments and contributions from dedicated organizations, like that of UTEC, may help to achieve recognizable advancements in a number of environmental standards.

– Zainab Adebayo

Photo: Flickr


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