Is UAE air quality good or can it be made better?

DG Staff

SHARJAH 9 January 2021: A joint study, led by the American University of Sharjah (AUS), discovered potential improvements in recent years to the UAE’s air quality.

Looking at the effects of meteorological parameters on air quality, the two-year study analysed several factors at two sites near Abu Dhabi and Dubai international airports. The results showed a decline in smaller particulate matter in the UAE in 2017, compared to 2016, said Wam.

“The results indicates major recent improvements to air quality because of government regulations, recent cloud seeding and rain enhancement projects,” said Dr. Yehya El Sayed, Professor of Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Sciences at AUS, who co-led the research.

It was noted that in a desert environment, dust can have a significant impact. “This research assessed environmental quality in the region, where exposure to dust is part of daily life. There is a shortage of data available on dust patterns and composition in the Gulf region. Long-term exposure to dust storms is expected to have an impact on our daily lives and operations, which is why we need to monitor their periodic patterns and characteristics,” Dr. El Sayed added.

“For example, dust storms result in reduced visibility that hinders aviation and may cause mechanical problems in cars and airplane engines. Furthermore, dust particulates can affect public health, since they can easily enter the respiratory system and affect the heart and lungs,” he said.

The study offers new data on the seasonal and temporal meteorological climate, which can help regulators adopt measures for alleviating the impact of dust and sandstorms on aviation and public health.

“Detailed assessments of dust contamination and metal concentration can potentially solve or eliminate possible mechanical problems in automobiles and airplane engines, associated with dust. This data can also assist environmental agencies in their regulatory roles,” explained Dr. Sofian Kanan, Professor of Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Sciences at AUS, who also co-led the research.

The researchers installed online monitoring stations and dust collectors at two research sites. Collected dust particulates were analysed, and the composition of dust-borne heavy metals concentrations were measured at AUS laboratories.

The study’s outcomes highlighted the need to continuously monitor meteorological parameters in the Gulf region, to predict the potential impact of future weather conditions on air-quality, aviation, airport management and public health. “Due to the ongoing urbanisation of the region, it is essential to collect additional data from various locations over a longer period of time,” Dr. El Sayed said.

The research was sponsored by General Electric Aviation. In addition to Dr. El Sayed and Dr. Kanan, the research team included chemistry graduate Taraneh Taghaddossi, along with Ahmed Farhat from the Dioscuri Centre of Topological Data Analysis of the Mathematical Institute at the Polish Academy of Sciences.