Sunday, July 16, 2017

Air Pollution Measurements in the United Arab Emirates

In 2015, to the shock of many, the UAE surpassed both China and India in PM2.5 levels, according to the World Bank’s “Little Green Data Book” (their annual report on global environmental indicators). P.M. 2.5 criteria measures minuscule airborne pollutants smaller than 2.5 microns. In 2015, The UAE’s air contained 80 micrograms of pollutants per cubic meter, compared to 73 microns in China and 32 in India. 

The UAE is the world’s eighth largest emitter of carbon dioxide per capita and is a prominent force in several industries such as cement manufacturing, power generation, desalination, etc. However, the largest contribution of PM2.5 happens to be the dust made of sand which is blown upward by construction and/or windstorms. UAE officials suggest that this skews the data, unfairly placing their country at the top of the list. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) gathers this data annually by combining satellite imagery, ground-level monitoring and atmospheric modelling to produce the PM2.5 numbers. Some believe this method should be revised, as it is unfair to countries with deserts. 

The 2017 issue of “The Little Green Data Book” places the UAE at 64 micrograms of pollutants per cubic meter, with China at 58 and India at 74. 


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