Pollution

Pollution in Santiago sparks public debate, government-industry feuds and occasionally, the issuing of health alerts. But as with any problem for which the government can be moaned at, there are bold overstatements about the air quality problem in the capital. Sure, the air is hardly squeaky clean, but it’s important to separate the myth from the fact. A fact is that Santiago did use to have serious episodes of air pollution, particularly in the 1980s when levels use to rise high enough for authorities to take emergency measures such as restricting all Co2 emissions and taking cars off the streets. But another fact is that things have demonstrably and steadily improved, and the levels reached in past decades have rarely been seen again. Myth, conversely, is that a hazy sky is invariably a sign of pollution. Santiago, as any other valley, forms a natural mist, particularly in winter when the capital often plunges into fog, without this having a direct connection to carbon emissions. It is true that the combination of winter fog and Co2 can prove daunting, especially when rain takes its time to arrive, but authorities now have a much more anticipative approach towards air quality and they are likely to prevent these nasty combinations from taking place in the first place. You should note, however, that during spring and summer, pollution is barely noticeable.