Even though thousands of Tapatios get in their cars and head for the beach over the Christmas holiday, there was to be no respite for the abused lungs of city folk.
Guadalajara’s streets may have been less clogged with traffic than usual, but the Christmas Eve air quickly became thick with contaminants and suspended particles as celebrants lit bonfires (fogatas) by the score and let off non-stop barrages of fireworks into the chilly night sky.
As the night passed and Christmas Day dawned, the smog reached “dangerous” levels in the south and west of the metropolitan area. Brisk December 25 early-morning walks were out of the question in some parts of the city as air-quality alerts were issued. Stay indoors and keep windows closed is the advice given to citizens when the “Imeca” index rises above 150. Readings at the Las Pintas monitoring station stayed above that figure for more than two hours on Christmas Day, while in Miravalle and Santa Fe they hovered around the 125-135 mark.
Should anyone have been surprised? Not really. Contamination in the Guadalajara metropolitan area has deteriorated over the past 12 months, most experts agree. Air quality dipped below “acceptable” international standards on a record 134 days of the year, while air quality alerts were issued 67 times – equivalent to 1,666 hours of “dangerous” pollution.
Neither is 2018 shaping up to be any better. The revamped vehicle emissions program may not be ready to begin in January as advertised, and promised new air quality monitoring equipment is unlikely to be installed any time soon. The state government seems bereft of ideas of how to reduce the pollution, which is now significantly worse than Mexico City.
For real-time information on Guadalajara’s air quality, see http://siga.jalisco.gob.mx/aire.