Mexican cities with more than 500,000 residents should systematically monitor their air quality to protect the public from pollution-linked respiratory and cardiovascular diseases that cause 14,700 deaths per year in this country, a coalition of NGOs said Tuesday.

The organizations urged local and federal authorities to "take immediate measures that permit the effective fulfillment of this regulation to be guaranteed to benefit the health of 55 million Mexicans."

On June 16, a regulation was published in Mexico's official gazette, NOM 156, which obliges the country's 34 most populous cities to "specify the minimum conditions that must be observed for the establishment and operation of air quality monitoring systems."

The majority of the cities that must adhere to this regulation require the technical and financial support of the federal government "to be able to obtain trustworthy measurements and communicate them in an efficient and timely manner to the public," the NGOs said.

To date, they added, "only the Valley of Mexico (the Mexico City region), Guadalajara and Monterrey are monitoring in a consistent manner" the emissions of polluting particles and gases into the atmosphere. EFE