Air Pollution In Medellin, Colombia

“Kathleen and Lief, OK. I really enjoy your reports on Medellin, but I have written to you before about my one concern, and nobody seems to talk about it.

“I have been to Medellin twice. I love the people and the European feel to the city, but both times I was there I was bothered by the air pollution. A number of people online also have been concerned, and some of them were really bothered.

“Did we just happen to be unlucky and is this a rare occurrence, or is it something that people get used to and just dismiss? The city obviously is down in its own large valley and certainly could be more inclined to trap pollutants.

“Thank you for all the great information you give us. We really enjoy your candid writing, especially when you are out and about.”

–Bill S., Oregon, United States (02/03/2012)

We note that you live in Oregon. We’re not sure where, exactly, but perhaps part of your reaction to Medellin is relative. If you’re living in a remote region of Oregon, any city might seem polluted.

We’ve now visited Medellin many times and at all times of the year, and we’ve never registered any pollution problem. In fact, the issue had never occurred to us until you brought it up.

Again, though, maybe our reaction is in part relative. We live currently in Panama City. Compared with Panama City, Medellin couldn’t be cleaner or fresher…

Air Pollution Concerns In Medellin, Cali, Cartagena, Santa Marta, And Bogota, Colombia

“Kathleen, can you comment on the quality of the air in regards to pollution and breathability for Medellín and some of the other cities in Colombia, like Santa Marta, Cali, Cartagena, Barranquilla, and Bogotá. Include small cities as well. Thank you.”

–David S., United States (04/29/2016)

Medellín is currently suffering higher levels of pollution than normal thanks to a light rainy cycle (thanks to El Niño). Generally speaking, though, in our experience, pollution levels are not bad in Medellín, given the size of the city.

Pollution can be a bigger concern in Bogotá. Both cities are in valleys, meaning the air pollution can get locked in at times.

Santa Marta, Barranquilla, and Cartagena are all on the coast so they enjoy lower pollution levels in general. Cali is a smaller city with less of a problem, as well.