The nitrogen dioxide levels in 16 of 60 locations in Costa Rica are higher than health limits, and there is no secret that these are areas that have high traffic.
Officials released a report on air quality Friday and also announced that a proposal was being advanced to levy what amounts to a fine on contaminating vehicles.
The study was a collaboration by the Ministerio de Salud, the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía, the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes and the Municipalidad de San José with technical help from the Laboratorio de Análisis Ambiental de la Universidad Nacional.
Top sites with air pollution were in front of Hospital San Juan de Dios on Paseo Colón, at the la Castellana gasoline station on Avenida 10, at Walmart in San Sebastián, at the Catedral Metropolitana on Avenida Segundo and on Avenida 9 at the central offices of the Junta de Administración Portuaria y de Desarrollo Económico de la Vertiente Atlántica.
The report said that air pollution was increasing by 11 to 13 percent a year.
Of course, part of the problem is the continual congestion in the central city. Officials said they plan to combat this with the electrification of transportation, the requirement of more efficient vehicles and tighter rules on new and used vehicles. Already 20 percent of private vehicles are prohibited from entering the city center each day based on the last digit of the license plate.
The extra tax on polluting vehicles is only part of the plan. A regulation to control vehicle emissions was published in the La Gaceta official newspaper last week that establishes the level of emissions permitted by vehicles, said officials.
The transport ministry said that the annual vehicle inspection would determine if a vehicle is a polluter subject to additional financial penalties.
The ministry also said it would support increasing the inspection fee leveled by Riteve S y C, S.A. by about $2 to accomplish this.\