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Sick of Dust
Lack of pavement on roads negatively affects health
186 from Nosara have respiratory problems per month

By Wilberth Villalobos Castrillo
Photos by Adam Dietrich

The excess of dust particles in the air has more than 6000 people in the Canton of Nicoya tired and sick during Guanacaste’s summer or dry season. 

Gusts of wind and vehicles passing at high speeds along gravel roads and main roadways that lack pavement provoke clouds of dust that drag with them a large number of particles that negatively impact the health of those that breathe it in.  

According to statistical data from La Anexion Hospital in Nicoya, in the first three months of 2010, 6999 patients were seen with respiratory illnesses, while in the first quarter of 2011, 5334 cases were reported.  

During January this year, the quantity of people who displayed some type of respiratory problem was 1436.  These figures include patients who suffer from asthma, congestion and allergic pinkeye, flu symptoms, rotavirus and influenza. 

To Dr. Graciela Briones, assistant medical director of La Anexion Hospital, exposure to dust and lack of persona hygiene constitute the principle causes of respiratory illnesses, which have greater recurrence in the population during dry season in the first three months of the year. 

“The dust affects all of us, but particularly those who live in coastal zones like Nosara, since in these places pavement does not exist on the roadways and, in addition, for being tourist sites there exists a large concentration of people who are constantly breathing in air loaded with these particles,” explained the doctor.

186 from Nosara with respiratory problems monthly; children are most affected

According to Dr. Lisany Mejia, in charge of the EBAIS clinic in Nosara, this medical unit during the month of January of 2012 saw 186 patients, mostly children from two months to one year of age, with some type of respiratory complication, the average monthly equivalent of 6 people daily.   

Heyleen Noguera, who lives in Nosara, mentioned that she faces a daily struggle against the dust and its effects to her health. “When I go out to the street, I have to put a cloth over my mouth and nose because it’s too much dust, and to make it worse many drivers pass at high speeds in their vehicles, leaving one without visibility and enduring breathing it in.”

VON was able to verify that an average of at least 115 vehicles per hour transit the roadway in front of Hotel Café de Paris in Guiones, which represents a vehicle passing every 30 seconds (see the graphic below).



Vehicles that Pass Along Route 160 Per Hour
The Voice of Nosara took note of the quantity of vehicles that pass by per hour along route 160. We were in front of Hotel Cafe de Paris in Guiones Beach between 10 and 11 in the morning for three consecutive days, counting all of the motorized vehicles that pass by this national route, kicking up dust. The average is shocking: 115 vehicles per hour, nearly one every 30 seconds.


Since she was born, Heyleen has suffered from asthma, due to which she constantly has to go to the community EBAIS and to the pharmacy of Nosara to obtain inhalers and Salbutamol pills. 

Eliecer Barrantes, owner of the only pharmacy in Nosara, affirmed that there has been an increase in the quantity of people in the community that have developed respiratory problems. 

"Here the asthma is accentuated in children, who are prone to develop it. Allergies like sinusitis, congestion and others are more common in adults. In addition, what sells most are anti-allergens or antihistamines like Talerdin-D capsules, Fexofenadinas tablets, Cetiricinas and the most popular are salbutamol and other inhalers that help to open the respiratory tracts for people that suffer from asthma," he explained. 

Among the recommendations provided by Dr. Briones are: avoid prolonged exposure in places where a large number of dust particles exist, as well as the constant washing of hands, clothing, stuffed animals and other objects that accumulate these residues. 

“As prevention, we recommend, and it’s very common to see, people going around on motorcycles with masks or scarves on their faces to diminish the intake of dust; however this is a discipline that not everyone respects,” commented Barrantes.

“The only way to solve this problem is all of us uniting as neighbors, nationals and foreigners, to manifest ourselves and pressure the government to asphalt this roadway. They should be in agreement that we count too and we voted for them,” assured Heyleen Noguera. 

To mitigate the effects of the dust, some Nosara residents have utilized the application of molasses over the gravel as a temporary solution. This substance absorbs and recovers the unpaved surface, suppressing the dust. However not everyone can pay for this measure as each barrel of molasses costs 45,000 colones ($90) and two barrels are needed to cover 50 meters of the route. In addition, its effect disappears with the first rains of winter. 


More Regional News

Extra protection from the Tourist Police for Holy Week

On Wednesday, March 21st, the Tourist Police met with the community of Nosara to present their updates. Among the good news, the chief of Guanacaste, Luis Chavarria Castrillo, said that Nosara is a priority for them, and due to this, in the month of February they transfered a new patrol vehicle from the delegation of Flamingo to Guiones Beach for patrolling along with the two existing motorcycles.

Attorney Files Appeal Against Nicoya's Regulatory Plan

A negative impact upon the environment and nesting turtles, 20 and 36-meter constructions along the coastline, the destruction of forests and water reservoirs; this could all happen if Nicoya's Regulatory Plan is approved just as it was presented on February 25th, Nosara residents reported.

“Law of Costal Territories is Respect Toward Private Property,” Carlos Gongora (ML)

The next fraction leader of the Movimiento Libertario (Libertarian Movement) party, Carlos Gongora, highlighted the importance of the Community Costal Territories Law (Tecocos) project since it is part of the “fundamental ideological principle of the liberals and it is respect toward private property.”

Thefts in Nosara and Garza Foiled

The police and OIJ are looking for suspects in two recent robberies, one in Nosara and one in Garza. On Saturday, March 17, during a Saint Patrick’s day party in Nosara, one party-goer decided to take a nap in her car. Around 11:30 p.m. she woke up to find a man inside her car, stealing her purse and wallet. She started screaming and honking the horn to scare him and he ran into the jungle with her belongings.

Second Field Fire in Two Days

It has been a busy weekend for the Nosara firefighters. This Sunday March 18 they responded to a field fire in Santa Marta. The fire was started when a small garbage fire caught wind and spread into a field and up a hill.

Esperanza Field Fire Burns Two Acres

A fire set to clear pasture space in Esperanza burnt out of control in the dry season weather. Nosara firefighters were called to the scene at 12pm on March 17, the fire, which had been burning for an hour, had spread through dry undergrowth.

Fire Consumed Large Part of Nosara’s Garbage Dump

A fire at the garbage dump in Nosara devastated a third of the land where the zone’s waste is deposited. According to the owner of the garbage dump, Arnulfo Espinoza, the fire “started by itself,” presumably by “a glass” that heated up a dry leaf.

Communities Voice Concerns about Proposed Regulatory Plan
Commission Will Hold Meeting to Review Observations on March 23rd

The regulatory plan commission received so much feedback about the proposed regulatory plan for the Canton of Nicoya, especially from the communities of Nosara and Samara, that they plan to hold a special meeting on Friday, March 23rd beginning at 9 a.m. in the Municipality to address concerns, according to Juan Carlos Oviedo Quesada, coordinator of the regulatory plan commission and Maritime Land Zone coordinator for the municipality.

OIJ Investigates Compay's Death

Nicoya's Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) is investigating the causes behind the death of 36-year old, Alexander Antonio Matarrita Castellón, known as ‘Compay’, who passed away on Thursday, March 8th at 11:00 a.m. at Hospital México, after being in a coma since February 21st.

Interview with Legislator Claudio Monge (PAC)
“The MOPT is not interested in budgeting money for Route 160, there are no mega tourism developments there"

Claudio Monge, legislator for the political party Partido Acción Ciudadan, toured several communities in the canton of Nicoya. VON took this opportunity to ask about the reasons why the project on Route 160 is not moving forward, and if the government really is interested in paving this road.

Lack of Water Affects Several Areas in Nosara Town

Since December 2011, 600 residents of Los Arenales and San Pedro are suffering due to lack of water. According to Christoph Hubmann, President of Nosara's rural ASADA, there is not enough water in the four tanks that supply the precious liquid to those neighborhoods. San Pedro is the area that has been most affected.

Coastal Territories Law Will Reward Illegal Activities at Ostional's Wildlife Refuge

Community leaders, environmentalists and tourism entrepreneurs have reported that the Coastal Territories Law suggests awarding properties to individuals, real estate companies and developers and political entrepreneurs who have committed irregular acts with properties within the Ostional Wildlife Refuge and the Maritime Terrestrial Zone (MTZ).

Nosara Red Cross
Emergency Doctors

Four Days with the Nosara Red Cross. If a medical emergency happens, Nosara can feel like an isolated place. The nearest hospital is 37 miles (60km) away in Nicoya, the two private health clinics are only open during the day and rarely deal with emergencies.

Project to Asphalt Route 160 Not Progressing
• Asphalting the Roadway Promised Since 2007

The longing of the inhabitants of Samara and Nosara to see Route 160 paved remains an unfulfilled promise of the government. Marcos Avila, president of the Nosara Development Association, manifested that since 2010 the plans for the route have been known; however he feels that the process is proceeding very slowly.

OIJ Assigns More Investigators to Nicoya Coastal Towns
• New Mobile Forms Allow People to File Complaints Locally

Eight months after a tourist from Argentina was shot in Samara on June 16 in order to rob her of a laptop computer, her murder remains under investigation, but the event served as a catalyst for greater attention to security along the coast. 

34 Families in Cuesta Grande Without Water Since November
• Local ASADA’s Legal ID is Expired and it Can’t Operate

Since the month of November of 2011, 34 families from the communities of Cuesta Grande and Terciopelo have their faucets dry. This is due to not having a connection to AyA’s system, and the source from which they have been taking water has been going dry.

More Speed Bumps for Samara? 
CASATUR proposes six new speed bumps to increase safety for pedestrians

Though they may be a nuisance to drivers, these bumps in the road are a means of slowing down traffic and reducing potential danger to pedestrians and bicyclists. To that end, Samara’s Chamber of Tourism, CASATUR, has recommended to MOPT the installation of six more speed bumps in strategic locations...

Proposed Regulatory Plan for Canton of Nicoya Available for Your Inspection
• People Have Until March 9th to Voice Questionsand Concerns 

Time is ticking. Inhabitants of the Canton of Nicoya were given just 10 working days to review the proposed regulatory plan, ask any questions they may have and respond with observations or concerns after the plan was presented during a public audience at the Polideportivo arena in Nicoya on Saturday, February 25th. 

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