More than a dozen areas caught fire during the fire season in Mexico in May 2019 and according to Mexico’s Department of the Environment, there were up to 100 wildfires burning in 20 out of the country’s 32 states. Multiple warnings have been issued about the dangers of being outdoors as the air pollution level soars to an extreme level – leading to officials in Mexico City to declare a state of emergency.
The Particulate Matter Concentrations (PM2.5) readings for the air quality first reads at 158 micrograms per cubic meter, and have slightly dropped to 143 micrograms per cubic meter. PM 2.5 refers to atmospheric particulate matter that has a diameter of fewer than 2.5 micrometers, which is about 3% the diameter of a human hair. To put this into perspective, exposure to 22 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5 is equivalent to smoking one cigarette a day. With Mexico City’s high level of PM2.5 readings consisting of 143 micrograms per cubic meter, that is equivalent to smoking six and a half cigarettes by simply breathing in that environment.
Research has shown that particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers could be inhaled and when it penetrates deep into the respiratory system, it could trigger chronic diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory diseases. The government of Mexico continues to battle against more than hundreds of active wildfires due to the hot and dry conditions during the fire season.