ULagos researchers deliver results on air quality in Castro

It was at the International Cooperation seminar “Environmental air pollution in island scenarios: baseline and challenges of the phenomenon of environmental air pollution by MP2.5 in the city of Castro“, where the results of the research led by academics from the Universidad de Los Lagos and Japanese academics belonging to the universities of Toyama and Gakuen were known.

The seminar preliminarily addressed the results of the monitoring of air quality carried out in the city of Castro during 2022 by the ULagos team, which correspond to the previous work carried out within the framework of the project entitled “Monitoring and characterization of air quality in the city of Castro, Isla Grande of the Chiloé Archipelago: Meteorological dynamics and epidemiological impacts associated with the behavior of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the resident island urban population 2022-2023”, by the researchers and academics of our institution: Ricardo Fernández, Javiera Martínez, Rodrigo Márquez and Francisca Rauch. 

Among the results, it was highlighted that children under 5 years of age (2,764 people, 6.3% of the population) and those aged 65 years of age (4,788 inhabitants, 10.3% of the population), who are most vulnerable to pollution, out of a total population of 43,807 inhabitants, according to the 2017 Census.

During the second part, the Japanese academics Dr. Jun Noda and Dr. Daisuke Tanaka, reported the results published together with their Chilean colleagues regarding the chemical composition of the particulate matter obtained in Osorno. On this occasion they also addressed the methodology that will be applied to the process of measuring particulate matter (PM 2.5) in the city of Castro in 2023, this within the framework of the international research cooperation “Associativity between air pollution and bioaerosols: analysis of the composition of MP2.5 of the city of Castro, Big Island of the Chiloé Archipelago”. 

Jun Noda explained that in the study “we sought to see the levels of 2.5 in Osorno first and that is what we want to expand in Castro. We also want to install some monitoring stations to be able to make these measurements that are very important to understand the situation and the conditions of the place, since otherwise it is very difficult to mitigate the problems that arise in these places.”

It was Francisca Rauch, co-researcher of the study and teaching director of Occupational Therapy at Chiloé, who explained the importance of these results because “they allow us to understand what is the impact that the air we breathe has today, but it also helps us to understand what are the actions that we have to have for our public policy in sectors such as education and health in order to improve air quality and the quality of people’s lives.

The same was pointed out by the director of the Chiloé campus of the Universidad de Los Lagos, Carlos Delgado, who valued the instance and said that “the results we have known from this study give us clue regarding what should be done to prevent emergency situations and also permanently in both health and education. We seek as Universidad de Los Lagos to contribute to the improvement and well-being of our territory, so research like these contributes to making better decisions.”

Jorge Bórquez, councilor of Castro, said that “the results were worrying because we did not have a measurement system in the commune and we have been many days in which an environmental emergency health alert should have been declared. Thanks to these results we can know what we have to do in the future together with the seremi of environment and health and education authorities“.

The seminar analyzed in an interdisciplinary manner the local geographical and environmental factors that affect the levels of respirable particulate matter and their effects on Castro’s cardiorespiratory morbidity to move to the stage of implementation of meteorological stations and measurement of particulate matter in different parts of the city and, With this, the registry will improve its coverage eventually in winter and summer. 

Rodrigo Márquez and Ricardo Fernández, researchers of the project, stressed that as a starting point an international standard weather station will be implemented at the Headquarters and others remaining inside the city Castro: “In this way we will cover the terraces of the city that project up to approximately 230 meters above sea level, this island city is an environmentally and geographically endemic place, so it will be very interesting to contribute with our scientific work to solutions that benefit the community and its institutionality. ” Finally, the results of the study indicate that episodes of greater pollution are associated with days with lower temperatures and low wind speed. Its objectives include generating new inputs for the efficient management of the municipal primary health care service and for the analysis, discussion and search for possible collective solutions to the problem of environmental pollution together with the Environmental Seremía of the Los Lagos region.