AIMS Geosciences, 2018, 4(1): 88-125. doi: 10.3934/geosci.2018.1.88

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Air quality at La Plata Conglomerate, Argentina: Review and prospective study to improve the present situation

1 Independent Consultant, PhD, Argentina
2 CIOP (Centro de Investigaciones Opticas), CC 124, La Plata, Argentina
3 Facultad de Ingeniería, Calle 1 esq. 47, 1900, La Plata, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina
4 CIC BA (Comisión de Investigaciones Científicas de la Provincia de Buenos Aires), Argentina
5 Universidad Tecnológica Nacional (UTN), Facultad Regional La Plata, Argentina
6 Facultad de Ciencias Exactas, Departamento de Matemáticas, La Plata, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina

Many Latin American cities today face the misbalance between economic productivity and environmental sustainability while they have to tackle both global and local threats to ecosystems and people’s health. La Plata Conglomerate (800,000 inhabitants)—placed in an area where the atmosphere has low self-cleansing capacity—has intense industrial, power plant and traffic activities; nevertheless and considering the importance it deserves, air pollution monitoring has been largely denied to the public. Taking into account historical, social, geographical and environmental aspects, the present prospective work compiles for the first time significant information and reports that allow gaining insight in the sources’ role linked to the air quality status as well as getting a panoramic view of the present needs. The involved discussion, together with a robust statistical analysis of winds carried out at four weather stations, permitted providing guidelines for the installation of a primary continuous air quality network. The establishment of such network (which has many advantages) is considered a key tool to improve the present situation in which people deserve knowing the air quality they breathe as an aspect of their life quality. Our analysis suggest the installation of seven monitoring sites to follow up ten species such as SO2, NOx, VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and PM2.5 (Particulate Matter ≤ 2.5 µm) among others together with basic meteorological parameters (surface winds, mixing height, etc.). Time frames and equipment to be employed are also suggested. Considering the broad context of the study, it was possible to infer that there is a great need for the creation of a law to make mandatory the installation and operation of networks for cities with similar problems. Finally, the study recalls that several environmental closely related issues (such as urban heat island, traffic air pollution, landfill control, etc.) should be addressed in the future.
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