Lima has the worst air pollution in Latin America according to a World Heath Organisation (WHO) report published this month.
The Peruvian capital has more almost four times more dangerous particles than the level the health body views “reasonable”, beating Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City to the contentious number one spot.
Lima’s air had an annual average of 38 micrograms a cubic metre of PM 2.5, harmful particles 30 times smaller than a grain of sand that are easily inhaled.
The northern part of the city measured 58 micrograms, while its south had 29 micrograms.
Lima’s pollution is caused partly by an antiquated fleet of buses and taxis that emit dirty exhaust fumes, as well as a saturated road network prone to bottlenecks, after its population tripled in the last thirty years.
The report analysed air in 1,600 cities in 91 countries, revealing only 12 per cent of the world’s city-dwelling population breathe clean air.
London and New York measured 16 and 14 micrograms of PM 2.5 respectively.
“We consider the yearly average as it gives a real indication of the danger to which people are exposed and can affect them in the long term,” said the WHO’s director for Public Health and Environment, María Neira at the press conference in Geneva.
The international health body said that as the countries themselves provided information voluntarily, more extremes cases might exist.
The Peruvian government approved the construction of the city’s first subway line in March, in a move to make transport more efficient in the city of estimated 9.7 million.