BUENOS AIRES – Greenpeace activists placed oxygen masks on a statue of El Cid in the Argentine capital’s Caballito neighborhood Thursday to dramatize air pollution levels that exceed limits established by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Twelve neighborhoods are exposed to toxins damaging to health, among the most polluted, Caballito. This is why we’ve decided to come to the geographical center of the city and demand clean air now,” the coordinator of the Greenpeace air pollution campaign, Laura Vidal, said in a statement
Activists with posters reading “#Airelimpioya” (CleanAirNow) climbed onto the equestrian monument at dawn to hang oxygen masks from the figures of Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, “El Cid,” and his horse, Babieca.
Greenpeace enlisted 100 people to take air quality readings at 87 different points in Buenos Aires and the air in 41 percent of the locations had concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) above the WHO-set maximum acceptable level of 21 parts per billion (ppb).
Dangerous amounts of NO2 are related to roughly 4.5 million premature deaths a year worldwide, according to Greenpeace.
“We need the government to take responsibility to work on a quick transaction toward public transportation based on clean energy,” Vidal said.
High levels of atmospheric NO2 are blames on emissions from diesel-fueled buses and trucks.