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US is helping Tijuana track air pollution

The Mexican flag in Tijuana can be seen prominently from the U.S. side of the border. Tijuana is the sixth-largest metropolitan area in Mexico with a population of 1.5 million. By comparison, San Diego County has about 3 million people.
Julien Pearce
The Mexican flag in Tijuana can be seen prominently from the U.S. side of the border. Tijuana is the sixth-largest metropolitan area in Mexico with a population of 1.5 million. By comparison, San Diego County has about 3 million people.

California is helping Tijuana understand where the Mexican city might be having issues with air pollution.

The border city is getting 50 low-cost air pollution monitors thanks to a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and help from the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

Tijuana was interested after U.S. money paid for a similar air-quality monitoring effort in Mexicali.

The devices will connect to Wi-Fi, so officials can track pollution in real time.

“They’re looking at places like fire stations, and schools and universities, other public institutions and in terms of geography and location,” said Ryan Atencio, of CARB. “They’re looking at places and areas where they think there will be excess emissions.”


The monitors will track particulate matter at least 2.5 microns in size and they are typically a by-product of diesel emissions.

Because the particulate matter is so small, the particles bypass the nose and throat and settle deep into the lungs. The pollution can trigger or worsen chronic disease like asthma, bronchitis and heart problems.

U.S. officials say helping the Mexican city makes sense because air pollution does not stop at the border.

“Emissions generated on our side can affect our neighbors and vice versa and so it’s really one community and certainly one air basin that just happens to be divided by the international line,” Atencio said.

Tijuana officials hope to use the monitors to pinpoint problem areas and use that information to craft solutions.

The monitors only cost $250 each.