An air-monitoring facility on a street in Al Ain Image Credit: Supplied

ABU DHABI: Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) is going all out to improve the quality of air in the capital, a top official said following the release of the 2017 State of Environment (SoE) Report. The report has identified air pollution as a primary environmental threat to public health in the UAE.

Ruqaya Mohammad, section manager for air quality, noise and climate change at EAD and lead author of the chapter on air quality in the SoE report, said EAD has implemented multiple efforts to mitigate pollution and improve public health in line with the UAE’s Vision 2021.

“We are taking a cross-sectoral approach to improve air quality by using the best technologies available, implementing the most suitable policies for regional conditions, extensive scientific investigation and close cooperation between government entities and the private sector,” said Ruqaya.

Quality and control

According to the report, the ambient air quality across Abu Dhabi is constantly monitored by a network of 20 fixed and two mobile monitoring stations. Up to 17 pollutants and select meteorological parameters are measured on an hourly basis. The main objective is to provide accurate information and data on air quality which enables EAD and other concerned authorities to identify the drivers, challenges and state of the air quality as well as to monitor the impact of targeted management and policy responses.

In 2014, EAD linked several air quality monitoring networks in the emirate in order to get a comprehensive understanding of air quality.

Challenge

The report said the primary pollutants of concern in the UAE include particulate matter (small solid or liquid particles found in the air). Ground-level ozone (O3) is also deemed a big challenge as it often exceeds the limits set by the UAE’s national ambient air quality standards. Health effects from other major pollutants are thought to be minimal, because they are mostly below stipulated limits. A significant amount of emissions in Abu Dhabi comes from facilities involved in oil and gas production and refining, power generation, water desalination and industrial processes, the report said. Line sources such as vehicle traffic and marine vessels are also contributors, the report added.

Ruqaya said, “It is anticipated that Abu Dhabi will grow in population and economy while simultaneously minimising anthropogenic impacts on air quality.”

What can the public do?

-Understand how air quality is measured, how it can affect your health and how to combat its effects

-Reduce the use of energy at home, insulate your home effectively and make rational use of your air conditioning system

-Use energy-efficient light bulbs and turn off the lights when you don’t need them

-Reduce the use of private transport, use public transit or join a carpool

-Switch to cleaner fuels and cleaner technologies such as electric cars, hybrids or natural gas vehicles

-Keep your vehicle engine in good condition with regular maintenance

-Maintain the correct air pressure in your tyres, it will reduce your fuel consumption, save money and prevent accidents

For more information, visit www.ead.ae or www.adairquality.ae

The writer is an Abu Dhabi-based freelance jourmalist