Mexico is a booming metropolis which has recently endured much industrial growth, a population boom, and is home to 3.5 million vehicles. On top of that, the geography of the Mexico city basin doesn’t help–Mexico City is located in the crater of an extinct volcano and is about 2,240 meters above sea level. At this elevation, the atmospheric oxygen levels are lower, and less oxygen results in incomplete fuel combustion in engines and higher emissions of carbon monoxide, among other compounds. The intense sunlight of the region then converts these compounds into smog, which blankets the region.
Auto traffic on overcrowded roads in Mexico, combined with the predominance of older automobiles, accounts for much of the country’s air pollution. Poorly-regulated industry right across the border from California is also a major culprit. In Mexico City, which has some of the world’s worst air pollution, geography is also a factor: the city is below sea level and surrounded by mountains, which traps pollution in the lower atmosphere.
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