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From: Bill Toman <>
Subject: Re: Dangerous levels of smog in Mexico City
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 1996 13:16:54 -0400

Will Stewart wrote:
> CALSTART News Notes
> Mexico City Smog Reaches Danger Levels
> 10/18/96, Mexico City - Mexico City smog officials ordered 40 percent
> of the city's vehicles from the roads earlier this week when ozone
> levels rose 2.5 times above international health limits, report news
> sources. Schools were told to keep children inside, and drivers may
> now drive only three out of five work days. Large industries must cut
> production by 40 percent; high-polluting factories and a number of
> city gas stations have been closed. A study reports 70 percent of the
> city's smog comes from the city's 3.5 million motor vehicles, half of
> which still operate on leaded gasoline.  The exhaust from these cars
> often gets trapped along with other noxious fumes in the bowl-shaped
> valley. The World Health Organization says one-hour exposure to ozone
> levels over 100 are dangerous to human health; this week ozone levels
> hit 256. Record ozone levels earlier this year also set the city's
> emergency program into action. (News Notes 1/25).

Hi Will,

I lived in Mexico City in 1994-1995.  Imagine having a sore throat for 5
months out of the year.  Winter is the worst, unlike LA (where I've also
lived) where summer is the worst.  An amazing, bumbling bureaucratic
"fix" to the dual problem of too much traffic and too much auto
pollution was to require, based upon your license plate, that a car not
"circulate" one day of the week.  The following market response

1)	The already terminally corrupt police force stopped all police
activities except for looking for cars driving on their rest day.  This
was because there was a stiff fine for this infraction, there was no
denying that the car pulled over was barred from driving on this rest
day, and drivers were extremely quick to settle for a 50% cash discount
on the fine.

2)	The income distribution in Mexico is so skewed, that anyone who
afford to own one car, could afford to own two.  So people drove the
second (generally more polluting) car on the primary car's rest day.
So not only was traffic not reduced, but total air pollution increased
as a result of this policy.

The beneficiaries of this policy were car dealers and policemen, and the
losers were the public and the environment.  Now that's government for
the people!

Bill Toman

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