Secretaría del Medio Ambiente de México en colaboración con Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health – 2018


Tanya Müller García – Secretary of Environment:

“Air quality is a major environmental risk to health, and one of the major challenges cities worldwide are facing in the 21st Century. According to the World Health Organization (2017), 9 out of 10 people in the world breathe poor air quality; moreover air pollution is a silent killer responsible of 7 mil-lion deaths in the world every year.

Mexico City was once the most polluted city worldwide (UNEP, 1992). This condition compromised quality of life and health for millions of inhab-itants in the city. For over 25 years, the Government of Mexico City has implemented bold policies which have led to a substantial improvement on air quality. Mexico City is no longer the most polluted city in the world, not even in the country, ranking now in the position 88 of the World Health Organization (2016), together with 42 cities that have PM2.5 concentra-tions of 22 ug/m3.

The implementation of public policies to improve air quality have achieved that pollution levels maintain a downward trend, despite the steady growth of the City and the vehicle fleet. What is the impact in public health of the implementation of these policies? Have we achieved an improvement in health as we have achieved in air quality? How can we continue improving air quality?

Convinced that scientific evidence is key for responsible environmental policies, in 2014 the Government of Mexico City initiated this collabora-tion with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, with the Secre-tarìa del Medio Ambiente (SEDEMA), Secretarìa de Salud (SEDESA), the Harvard David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS), and with the participation of the Mario Molina Center for Strategic Stud-ies on Energy and Environment, the National Institute for Public Health (INSP), and the National Institute for Geography and Statistics (INEGI). The Historical Analysis of Air Quality in Mexico City from 1990 to 2015 evidence the health benefits in the population related to air quality. The Study also provides information about cost-benefit analysis of measures to continue improving air quality and policy recommendations for further im-provements that are necessary for major health benefits.

This administration has prioritized air quality policies for better quality of life; with scientific evidence-based decision making and the participation of academia, recognized international researchers, as well as national re-search institutes.

Policies to improve air quality must be effective and inclusive, privileging the common good over particular interests; and with a metropolitan and long term vision, as air pollution does not recognize administrative or po-litical frontiers. The challenge is big and of course there is still a lot to be done, but we are decisively advancing in the right direction, committed to guarantee sustainability and quality of life for all.”

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