The small town of Santa Gertrudes located in Brazil has been raising some attention lately for having the worst air pollution of any Brazilian jurisdiction. Residents are blaming the 29 factories that make Santa Gertrudes the largest producer of ceramic tile in the Americas as the main source of the pollution. Some residents even believe that they are trading their health for money, with evidence perhaps backing this up; Brazil’s Ministry of Health has reported that 49,000 Brazilians die from air quality-related illnesses every year. The factory owners however, are not accepting fault. They report that the machinery and kilns used during production are regularly inspected and meet the standards required by environmental agencies. Instead, the owners believe that the health issues could be more of a result of the dust that is kicked up in the roads during transportation of the raw materials from the mines to the factories.
A solution from the Secretary for Public Works and the Environment in Santa Gertrudes was to pave 10 miles of roads connecting the materials extraction pits to the production hub. He estimated that this alone could reduce the dust by at least 50%. However, to date, no start date has been named. The current situation has resulted in Santa Gertrudes charging the ceramic factories for the use of water trucks to help settle the dust kicked up by the trucks, along with enforcing the use of tarps during transportation.
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