Air Pollution Soars in Lima Following New Year’s Eve Traditions

A popular New Year’s Eve tradition in Peru – the burning of large “old year” dolls and old furniture – caused a major increase in air pollution in the Andean country’s capital city.

Peru’s Environmental Health Office, Digesa, said that the neighborhood bonfires in the streets of Lima on New Year’s Eve increased air pollution by some 500 percent.

Health official Elmer Quinchiz said the “indiscriminate burning terribly exceeded the maximum level [of air contamination].”

“People burn everything and they don’t recognize the risk that this has for their health,” Quinchiz added, according to daily El Comercio.

Along with firecrackers and colorful fireworks, the burning of almost life-sized dolls and old objects like furniture is a popular tradition for residents in Lima during New Year’s Eve, as a celebration of saying good bye to the old year and welcoming the new one.

The bonfires can include everything from old chairs and other furniture, to mattresses, clothes, as well as garbage.  Quinchiz said many of the objects that are burned have “carcinogenic contaminants.”

The bonfires and firecrackers also cause many of the fires reported by firefighters during the celebrations.  This year, the fire department reported 40 fires on New Year’s Eve, many caused by sparks from firecrackers, while many of the taller fire piles damage overhanging telephone and electricity wiring in the streets.

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One Comment

  1. Helen Kalmár says:

    Peru has a long way to go with regards to air pollution. Leaving mattresses and furniture on the street has nothing to do with old traditions, it is merely a way of getting rid of goods that are no longer required.

    We need to build recyclying centres and allow residents to drive to these places in order to get rid of their unwanted goods.

    As for rubbish on the street, this again has nothing to do with old traditions as it is merely an excuse to get rid of it. Councils need to work harder to get rid of this long suffering problem before there is not only contaminated air but cholera and other diseases that will eventually be passed around.

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