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A summary of the international workshop on the influences of air quality on the Mayan heritage sites in Mesoamerica.

Heckel PF; Keener TC; Alvarez HB
EM 2007 Feb; 57(2):24-30
The workshop participants agreed that air pollutants are causing significant deterioration at the Mayan sites. The pollutants of concern include acid precursors, such as SO2 and NOx, and hydrocarbons from petroleum and biogenic sources. The potential sources include large petroleum point sources in the Gulf region, the long-range transport of pollutants, and local sources. The immediate need is to conduct monitoring at selected sites for wet/dry deposition to evaluate the contributions of these pollutants. Due to the omnipresence of microbial biofilms on Mayan monuments it is also important to conduct studies to determine the effects on building stone of microorganisms in association with the selected pollutants. It was agreed that a follow-up workshop should be held in Guatemala in 2007 at Tikal National Park to discuss the progress made in resolving the problems highlighted at this first workshop. Committees were formed to determine the location of point sources, investigate systematic monitoring methods, document sites and damage, and identify potential funding sources. Maury Parades of FCG is to chair the organizing committee for the next workshop, depending on the availability of resources. The ultimate goal is to establish a Mayan Air Sampling Network to determine air emissions and meteorological conditions that contribute to the overall deterioration of these cultural heritage sites. There is a need for a comprehensive database, containing the location and emissions profiles of local point sources and regional meteorological information. The effects of long-range transport must also be studied. Methods are required to characterize the various contributing sources, such as a tracer study or receptor source apportionment. A number of air monitoring stations, coupled with adequate meteorological monitoring, are needed at the key Mayan sites, such as Tikal, Copán, and Chichén Itzá, or sites with unusual pollutant profiles. These stations must be able to monitor and sample gases and particles, as well as acid deposition levels to determine in situ concentrations and air quality trends. The importance of an emissions inventory program cannot be overstated. Laboratory facilities are needed for analysis. The future preservation of the Mayan region requires the financial and technical support of developed nations and private organizations.
Pollution; Pollutants; Airborne-dusts; Airborne-particles; Acids; Hydrocarbons; Microorganisms; Emission-sources; Meteorology; Air-quality
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Journal Article
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EM: Air & Waste Management Association's Magazine for Environmental Managers
Performing Organization
University of Illinois at Chicago
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division