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Eco-briefs

 
 

BRAZIL: Mega-Cities Far From Meeting Air Quality Standards

RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazil's major cities will have to reduce their air pollution much more if they hope to comply with the new parameters for air quality established by the World Health Organzation (WHO).

The WHO reduced the acceptable maximum level of the annual average for suspended particulates from 70 to 20 micrograms per cubic meter, cut the daily maximum limit of ozone from 120 to 100 micrograms, and the daily average of sulfur dioxide from 120 to 25 micrograms.

Sao Paulo, for example, has an average of 45 micrograms of suspended particulates per cubic meter -- more than twice the WHO recommended limit.

"Now society, industry and the government are stimulated to make a great effort to reduce urban pollution," Nelson da Cruz Gouveia, a professor at the University of Sao Paulo who participated in the revision of the index, told Tierramérica.

Every year, air pollution is responsible for the deaths of some 50,000 people in Brazil.

 
 

VENEZUELA: Flamingos Enjoy Good Health

CARACAS - So far in 2006, in the northwestern Venezuelan marsh of Los Olivitos alone, 6,700 Caribbean flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber ruber) have hatched, reports Betsabey Motta, from the Environment Ministry's office of biodiversity.

The flamingo population in northern Venezuela has grown continuously over the past 10 years, said Motta.

Flamingos "are an overprotected species in Venezuela, as they require a simple habitat, even with scant vegetation, but salt mining continues to threaten all of the flora in marshes like Los Olivitos, to the detriment of other bird species," Jorge Hinestroza, professor of ecology at the University of Zulia, told Tierramérica.

The rainy season -- longer and more intense this year -- helped in the production of more plants as food, sought by migratory birds like the flamingo in the southern extension of the Caribbean Basin.

 
 

CHILE. Air Pollution Online

SANTIAGO - The levels of air pollution recorded each hour by the seven monitoring stations in the Chilean capital are published in real time on the web page of the Metropolitan Region's health authority (http://www.asrm.cl), which previously only reported the daily average.

The regional health ministry decided to make the data available after three citizen organizations sued the agency for access to public information. The ministry had refused over the course of three months to respond to several requests.

Moisés Sánchez, director of the Pro-Access Foundation, one of the plaintiffs, told Tierramérica that the publication of the data (begun Oct. 31) helps Santiago residents to protect themselves, and will serve to improve the existing plans to curb air pollution.

In Santiago, a city hemmed in by mountains, the worst air pollution is recorded between April and September. In 2005 there were seven environmental alerts and two pre-emergencies declared by the authorities.

 
 

HONDURAS: European Union to the Rescue of a River Basin

TEGUCIGALPA - Over the next 18 months the European Union will be promoting a reforestation project in the Goascorán River Basin, along the Honduras-El Salvador border, which flows into the Pacific Ocean.

The 250,000-dollar initiative will be carried out by the Honduran VIDA Foundation.

The foundation's director, Isaac Herrera, told Tierramérica that the project includes planting trees, environmental education, irrigation, and promoting farms that use environmentally friendly techniques.

Two weeks ago, the 6,000 residents of the basin suffered flooding from the river, which destroyed homes and crops, and killed one person.

Deforestation in the area is a serious problem, says Herrera, and merits prompt action "so that tragedies like this aren't repeated."

 
 

CUBA: Eco-Gardens in the City

HAVANA - Urban crops in Cuba will produce some 4.3 million tons of vegetables and fresh herbs this year, Adolfo Rodríguez Nodals, head of the National Urban Agriculture Group, told Tierramérica.

Urban gardens make good use of space in populated areas, utilizing organic fertilizer and biological pest control, among other techniques to grow food at low cost and with no harm to the environment.

In Havana, urban farming provides each of the 2.2 million inhabitants with 200 to 250 grams of vegetables and fresh herbs daily, and in other parts of the country the portion surpasses 300 grams, says Rodríguez Nodals.

Experts from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recommend daily intake of 300 grams of vegetables per person, which helps ensure a minimum of vitamins and minerals in the diet, as well as maintaining good health.



* Source: Inter Press Service.


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