In Bolivia, the high-altitude environment and basin-like geography of the La Paz - El Alto region provides for unique air quality challenges. Densely-packed roadways lead to long commute times in heavy vehicular traffic conditions. In near-source regions, high levels of air pollution are unavoidable. Utilizing low-cost sensors and personal monitors, we estimated air quality conditions for different commuter microenvironments in downtown La Paz as well as in the neighboring city of El Alto.
Measured pollutants include particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and black carbon, and examined methods of transportation include car, microbus, diesel bus, walking, and teleférico (a rapid transit cablecar network). Recently established in 2014, the teleférico aims to alleviate vehicular traffic congestion, and the cablecar network has plans to triple in size in the near future.
In collaboration with a local university (Universidad Mayor de San Andres) we were granted permission to install one of our low-cost sensor prototypes onto a teleférico cabin rooftop; monitoring equipment was also positioned inside the cabin. Results from this commuter exposure study indicate significantly cleaner air quality conditions for teleférico passengers.