The effect of national protest in Ecuador on PM pollution

Particulate matter (PM) accounts for millions of premature deaths in the human population every year. Due to social and economic inequality, growing human dissatisfaction manifests in waves of strikes and protests all over the world, causing paralysis of institutions, services and circulation of transport. In this study, we aim to investigate air quality in Ecuador during the national protest of 2019, by studying the evolution of PM2.5(PM ≤ 2.5 µm) concentrations in Ecuador and its capital city Quito using ground based and satellite data. Apart from analyzing the PM2.5 evolution over time to trace the pollution changes, we employ machine learning techniques to estimate these changes relative to the business-as-usual pollution scenario. In addition, we present a chemical analysis of plant samples from an urban park housing the strike. Positive impact on regional air quality was detected for Ecuador, and an overall − 10.75 ± 17.74% reduction of particulate pollution in the capital during the protest.

Fig: Satellite images of PM2.5 concentrations for Ecuador and Colombia (panels a–c) and the Pichincha region (red line) of Ecuador, containing Metropolitan District of Quito (blue line), and Quito city (grey line) (panels d–f) averaged over 12 days of three periods: September 25–October 1 (before the strike, panels a and d), October 2–13 (during the strike, panels b and e) and October 14–25 (after the strike, panels c and f). For the visualization of the ECMWF raster of PM2.5 the ArcGis PRO software was used, with a resolution of 44 km /pixel, with a WGS84 projection system with ESPG 4326 coordinate system , these data are

However, barricade burning PM peaks may contribute to a release of harmful heavy metals (tire manufacture components such as Co, Cr, Zn, Al, Fe, Pb, Mg, Ba and Cu), which might be of short- and long-term health concerns.

Zalakeviciute, R., Alexandrino, K., Mejia, D. et al. The effect of national protest in Ecuador on PM pollution. Sci Rep 11, 17591 (2021).

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