In early February, the U.S. Embassy in Lima installed an air quality monitor close to the employee entrance (CAC-2). The monitor will generate real-time measurements of particulate matter on the Embassy compound. PM2.5, or “fine” particulate, poses a greater health risk than other common pollutants because the smaller particles penetrate more deeply into the respiratory system.
The primary function of the air monitor is to generate timely information that can be used to protect the health of Embassy employees and the broader American community. Although the air monitor cannot be used for citywide air quality analysis, its measurements can serve as a proxy for air quality on the Embassy compound and in the surrounding neighborhood. Peru’s meteorological service (SENAMHI) has expressed interest in incorporating this monitor into their air quality network for Lima, which currently does not include Surco.
The installation of the air quality monitor supports Mission goals related to protecting American citizens and enhancing cooperation on the environment. It will also generate information that can be used for reporting to Washington, including for quality of life surveys and other required reports.
- Protecting Americans: Americans living in Lima do not currently have an easily accessible source of data on current levels of air pollution or related health risks. SENAMHI does publish hourly readings from its existing network (10 stations) but these are buried on a subpage of their website. The readings are also not converted into an Air Quality Index number that can be easily understood (see below):
- Post’s monitor will generate raw readings and will also automatically convert these readings into an AQI number and color code. The raw readings and AQI will be made available hourly on an Embassy webpage that will also include an embedded RSS feed so the data can be pulled to other websites.
- Bilateral Cooperation on Environment: Pushing out air quality data from the Embassy monitor will encourage the Peruvian government to make its own data more publicly accessible. Increased transparency will in turn facilitate a more informed dialogue between the government and civil society regarding the extent of air pollution and appropriate policy measures to address this pollution. EPA seeks to expand its presence in Peru and will be better positioned to handle requests for technical assistance related to air pollution.
- Reporting: The data from the monitor can be used to create baseline and trend reports on air quality for the Embassy neighborhood. This quantitative information can be added to post quality of life surveys and other mandatory reporting that affect allowances and have other implications.