January 23, 2011

Aire Puro (When Will I Breathe It Again?)

This morning when I woke up I took my daughter into the bathroom to change her diaper and opened the window.  Later we went back into our bedroom, and after a while returned to the bathroom.  When I went in the door I was hit in the nose by a acrid whiff of that unmistakeable odor of burning plastic.  It's a chemical, slightly sweet, always offensive smell, when I notice it outside we stop what we're doing and go inside with all the windows closed.  I quickly shut the window and turned on the fan. I've never lived in a situation like this before, but I know residents of Los Angeles and Mexico City deal with this quite often.  Usually we're lucky to have very clear air here on the north side of the city of Queretaro, because the prevailing winds come from the north and sweep most of the smog to the south side of the city.  That makes for terrible views from the national park at the top of Cimatario, the mountain flanking the south side, and we can see that cloudy greyish yellow haze across the valley from our house, especially in the rainless winters.  In our town, we experience our own forms of smoke when people burn their trash in their backyards.  This morning I was so disturbed by the waft of toxic air billowing into my house that I felt compelled to write to my friends in the environmental community, asking for ideas on what we can do to solve this.  Below are links to more information about the connection between trash burning, air pollution, and dioxins (one of the most carcinogenic substances on Earth).  They state "A recent study found that residential trash burning from a single home could release more dioxin into the air than an industrial incinerator." Yikes.  We're in trouble.  I think I've found my next pet environmental project here in Mexico. =(

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