Eng. Shaikha Al Hosani, Executive Director of the Environmental Quality Sector at the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) is announcing the results of Abu Dhabi Air Emissions Inventory – the first comprehensive air emissions geodatabase for the Emirate. Image Credit: EAD

Abu Dhabi: The oil and gas, road transport and industrial sectors are the biggest contributors to air pollution in Abu Dhabi, a new government report said on Wednesday.

The Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi (EAD) released results of the Abu Dhabi Air Emissions Inventory that produced over 50 high-definition sector-specific Air Emission Maps, identifying the location and intensity of each man-made emission sources in the emirate, for the very first time.

This information can be used to quantify the exposure of residents and natural ecosystems to air pollution, enabling authorities to take remedial actions against harmful emissions, officials said.

Results show that the oil and gas, road transport and industrial sectors are the biggest contributors to air pollution in Abu Dhabi, but with varying intensities across the emirate.

Eng. Shaikha Al Hosani, Executive Director of the Environmental Quality Sector at the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) is announcing the results of Abu Dhabi Air Emissions Inventory – the first comprehensive air emissions geodatabase for the Emirate. Binsal Abdul Kader/Gulf News

Emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOX), carbon monoxide (CO) and particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) were highest in areas with heavy road traffic and at industrial sites such as Musaffah Industrial Area and the Khalifa Industrial Zone (Kizad). The largest amount of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) emissions are located in areas of offshore and onshore oil and gas activity, including Al Dhafra, and near the ports.

“Based on the inventory, we will work with our stakeholders to make appropriate annual targets for each sector in the emirate to achieve the air quality national target — 90 per cent — by 2021,” said Shaikha Al Hosani, executive director of the Environmental Quality Sector, EAD.

On enforcing the regulations based on the findings, she said: “Within the industries, we will focus on the sectors producing the highest emissions and further strengthen regulations for them, such as power pants, steel and cement industries etc”

Al Hosani said the violators would be first given notifications and then time to comply with them. The authority will then issue tickets for violations and refer them to courts, that may impose fines to the tune of Dh10,000 to Dh300,000, depending on the impact of the pollution caused, she explained.

Ruqaya Mahmoud Mohammad of the EAD, said the agency is monitoring the air quality and standards to ensure that all industries comply with the existing regulations.

Khansa Ebrahim Al Blouki, director of Environmental Outreach at the EAD, talks to Gulf News about the role of school and university students in the efforts to minimise air pollution. Binsal Abdul Kader/Gulf News

Khansa Ebrahim Al Blouki, director of Environmental Outreach, EAD, said school and university students are also involved in the efforts to minimise air pollution in the emirate.

Long-term impact of Abu Dhabi Air Emissions Inventory

The inventory will support evidence-based policy and decision-making at both local and federal government levels, in order to facilitate cross-sector air quality management, EAD officials said.

It will help evaluate and assess strategies currently in place to curb man-made air emissions and help municipalities in zoning and urban planning. It will also promote cost-effective initiatives to improve efficiencies and reduce emissions by updating the environmental database for industrial emissions. The inventory will provide facilities with both information and skills to develop their own specific emissions databases and better track their processes and emission reductions. The report will also serve as a reference tool that will enable critical knowledge exchange with local and international experts.

The inventory represents a major effort in EAD’s comprehensive programme for air quality management. The agency also operates an extensive air quality monitoring network in Abu Dhabi, which consists of 20 fixed and two mobile stations that feed information to the central system minute-by-minute.

The inventory was produced in close collaboration with over 90 local industrial entities and government bodies, including the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, Statistics Centre — Abu Dhabi, Department of Transport etc.