Global Efforts to Combat Car Smog

Unfortunately for major metropolitan areas, smog from automotive carbon emissions can and is a major public health issue around the world. From Beijing to Delhi to Mexico City to Milan, metropolitan officials have to take into consideration the best way to curb pollution issues without hampering city-wide transportation.

sarejevo smogThere was a day in Milan last December when bicyclists had city streets to themselves as a result of a six-hour ban on private cars implemented by city officials in response to a persistent smog that had pervaded the metropolitan area. Milan is Italy’s business capital, and had at the time exceeded pollution levels considered healthy for over 30 days straight. Private car and motorcycle drivers respected the ban, finding common ground across cultural boundaries in the need for clean air.

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzogovina dealt with auto-related smog in December by simply asking that private drivers use their vehicles as little as possible and instead adopt alternate means of transportation like biking and public transportation. Residents were also discouraged from spending extra time outdoors, with a particular emphasis on avoiding morning and evening hours. Red Cross workers and other volunteers also handed out face masks to residents who wanted or needed to move around outdoors despite the smog warning.

At the time, the air pollution in Sarajevo was so severe that authorities were forced to shut down schools and prompt an early winter break. The mountain city is prone to heavy fog, which can turn into smog in times of high carbon emission and little wind.

In Beijing that same December, city officials were moved to issue two smog-related red alerts. In China, red alerts are prompted by air quality index being forecasted to exceed 200, which is a level considered globally to be heavily polluted, for at least three consecutive days. 200 is seen as a very high level of air pollution across the world, but unfortunately Beijing has recorded air quality levels well over 900.

new delhi smogBeijing has attempted to enforce a variety of traffic restrictions in response to its highly problematic air quality. It has attempted to use including a number licence-plate system to force private car owners to alternate their daily access to public roadways, but unfortunately these regulations are often circumvented by people who cover their real license plates with fake ones or use license plates bought or borrowed in other cities.

In the Iranian capital of Tehran, smog has been considered a major issue among city officials. Tehran’s 14 million residents were warned to stay indoors whenever possible during December of 2015, schools were closed, and soccer matches were postponed in response to dangerously low air quality that in turn is a consequence of the widespread use of outdated vehicles, inadequate infrastructure and inconsistent enforcement of carbon emissions regulations. Tehran copes with similar issues as Sarejevo in that it is surrounded by mountains and blocked from cleansing winds.

New Delhi was named the most polluted city in 2014 and temporarily banned the sale of large diesel vehicles while creating stiff levies on trucks entering New Delhi. Trucks over 10 years old have been banned entirely from the quickly growing metropolis.

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