The “pulmón urbano” (urban lung) by the Universidad Nacional captures some of the air pollution in San José in the Antigua Aduana.

The pollution in Costa Rica’s capital city, San José,  is a threat to Costa Ricans health, a study by the Laboratorio de Análisis de Calidad de la Universidad Nacional (UNA) – National University´s Quality Analysis Laboratory.

Harmful particles in the air here were recorded at 37 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3), according to the research. The figure is almost double the maximum contaminant levels established by the World Health Organization (WHO).

In San José, people are breathing harmful elements such as sulfates, chlorides, nitrates, nickel, copper, vanadium and aluminum.

Also large amounts of manganese which is responsible for the reduction in lung capacity, said Rosario Alfaro, an expert from the university.

This kind of pollution affects human airways, the digestive system and the eyes, as well as the skin with consequent acceleration of aging, she said.

It is urgently necessary to eliminate lead from fuels, mainly because emissions generated by cars, often for lack of maintenance, Alfaro said.

In this regard, Costa Rica’s Minister of Environment and Energy, René Castro, highlighted the progress in the elimination of lead and mercury in fuels.

However, he acknowledged that the challenge for the country is to lower emission levels in San José – Heredia and San José – Cartago routes.