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Network analysis: a novel approach to identify PM2.5 hotspots and their spatio-temporal impact on air quality in Santiago de Chile


Air pollution, particularly PM2.5 particulate matter, is a significant issue in Santiago, the capital of Chile. Santiago’s pollution problem is exacerbated by its unique geographic location nestled against the Andes mountain range in the central valley of Chile. This paper uses network models that were developed primarily to analyze systemic risk in the financial system to identify those locations in the city that are most important for explaining PM2.5 levels. High average concentrations are associated with both systemically important locations and those that are most sensitive to pollution arriving from other areas. A detailed picture of the links across the city can help direct official efforts to combat pollution.

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  1. For the adverse impacts of PM2.5 in European cities, see Maciejewska (2020).

  2. For a general introduction to time series modeling using VARs, see Martin et al. (2013), Chapters 13 and 14.

  3. See Acharya et al. (2016) for the potential to introduce bias by using potentially endogenous variables in this setting.

  4. For ease of interpretation, the monitoring stations are ordered in the VAR in south-west to north-east order according to their geographic location given that this is the direction of the prevailing wind across Santiago.


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The first author received financial support from the Chilean CONICYT funding agency (FONDECYT 1180672).

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Correspondence to Adam Clements.

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Clements, A., Herrera, R. & Hurn, S. Network analysis: a novel approach to identify PM2.5 hotspots and their spatio-temporal impact on air quality in Santiago de Chile. Air Qual Atmos Health 13, 1075–1082 (2020).

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  • Particulate matter
  • PM2.5
  • Santiago
  • Networks