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State of Nuevo León first to benefit from improved nationwide air quality information system

14.11.2012
CEC-sponsored initiative with Nuevo León state environment ministry is the first step toward integrating Mexico into a uniform North American monitoring system
Today, the Nuevo León state ministry of sustainable development, with support from the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), launched a revamped air quality information management system in Monterrey, Mexico, using AirNow-International.

This CEC initiative, developed in coordination with Canadian, Mexican and US government agencies, is laying the foundation for improved ways to inform citizens around the country about air quality in their communities with real-time data that are consistent with the national air quality monitoring programs in Canada and the United States.

“From now on, we’ll have a better understanding of air pollution episodes and their spatial and temporal dynamics in the atmosphere. We’ll have the tools to evaluate air pollution control strategies, as well as better communication tools like maps and graphics that track the movement of pollutants, and forecasts of air pollution events to inform the residents of the Monterrey Metropolitan Area,” said Fernando Gutiérrez Moreno, Secretary of Sustainable Development for Nuevo León.

Air quality can worsen when the concentration of pollutants in the air increases. The elderly, children, individuals with respiratory illness and those who work outside are particularly vulnerable to the effects of poor air quality. The AirNow system provides information so that these groups can properly prepare by limiting their time spent outdoors, and assists local authorities in their air pollution management efforts. That information will allow the publication of real-time reports on the city’s air quality, with information on a wider range of pollutants, including particulate pollution that currently poses a threat to health in many Mexican cities. Monterrey will also implement a sophisticated pollution alert system.

“With the launch of the AirNow system in Mexico, we’ll now have a consistent set of tools to process and disseminate information on air quality conditions across North America,” said Orlando Cabrera-Rivera, CEC’s air quality program manager.

Earlier this year, the CEC arranged for Mexican environmental and public health agencies to meet with their counterparts in the US and Canada to discuss the development of a Mexican Air Quality Index and the implementation of the AirNow-International system.

AirNow, developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is the main portal for accessing current air quality conditions and forecasts for the United States and Canada. AirNow-International is an offshoot of the AirNow system for use by international partners around the world. AirNow-International was adopted by Shanghai, China in 2010, and it is being considered for future implementation in Brazil and other parts of China. AirNow-International developer Sonoma Technology, Inc., has been working with CEC to implement the AirNow-International system in Mexico.

The CEC is working in partnership with Mexico’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) and the National Environmental Research and Training Center (Cenica) in the adoption of AirNow-International by Mexico’s National Air Quality Monitoring Network (Sinaica).

About CEC

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) is an intergovernmental organization that supports the cooperative environmental agenda of Canada, Mexico and the United States to green North America’s economy, address climate change by promoting a low-carbon economy, and protect its environment and the health of its citizens. The CEC is composed of three bodies: a Council, representing the governments of the three member countries, a Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) that advises the Council and serves as a liaison with the public, and a Secretariat that supports the Council and JPAC and prepares independent reports. The CEC brings together governments, civil society, and businesses to develop innovative North American solutions to global environmental challenges. Find out more at: www.cec.org.

CEC initiatives are undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada through the federal Department of Environment, the Government of the United States of America through the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Government of the United States of Mexico, through the Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales.

Megan Ainscow | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cec.org

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