Dubai Municipality will develop advanced monitoring systems, as well as ‘Smart Air Quality Stations’
Dubai residents concerned about the future can soon breathe can soon breathe a sign of ‘clean’ relief – the Emirate’s ambitious Dh500 million plan to improve air quality will, in the long run, lead to better health for us all.
Air Quality Strategy 2017 is designed to turn Dubai into a city with world-class standards for air purity, according to Eng. Hussain Nasser Lootah, the Director General of Dubai Municipality, who unveiled the plan last week.
As part of the project, Dubai Municipality will develop advanced monitoring systems, as well as ‘Smart Air Quality Stations’ which should help raise public awareness of the importance of clean air.
Eng. Alia Al Harmoudi, the Director of the Municipality’s Environment department, explained that the preliminary stages of the project included analysing data from the last several years to create over 300 digital maps pinpointing the locations in which pollution levels increase, their sources, and how they spread, taking into account various climactic factors such as variations in temperature and humidity and the speed and direction of winds.
The monitoring systems “will provide visitors with the opportunity to experience the most important air quality issues in a unique and modern manner that leaves the greatest impact on the visitor’s imagination and enhances their environmental awareness,” Harmoudi said.
Officials noted that local air quality has conformed to international standards even before the launch of Air Strategy 2017.
In September 2016, for example, Dubai Municipality statistics gathered from 13 smart stations across the Emirate revealed that Dubai’s air quality had improved 88 per cent by the end of 2015, higher than the target level of 85 per cent.
The health risks of contaminated air
In an interview, Dr. Trilok Chand, one of the UAE’s top experts on the harmful effects of air pollution, noted that it is a global problem that must be curbed by government policies such as those now being taken in the emirate.
Dr. Chand, a specialist in respiratory medicine at Abu Dhabi’s Burjeel Hospital, said “the quality of air depends on many things, such as particles and (the presence of) chemicals such as carbon monoxide. These particles and chemicals increase health risks.”
Contaminated air, he explained, can harm both people who already suffer from pre-existing respiratory conditions and those who don’t. “If they (people with pre-existing respiratory problems) stay in a city with bad air quality, they can be affected …for example, if they already have asthma, problems can increase.”
“The problem is that diseases can be caused by carbon monoxide and other materials in the air. People can face bronchitis, or even pneumonia.”
Children, older people, and unborn babies are at particular risk, he added. “If we improve air quality, the number of respiratory problems (will) come down.”
Poor quality air: a global scourge
Around the globe, millions of people continue to suffer the negative health effects of poor quality air.
A study released by UNICEF in October 2016 found that an estimated 300 million children – most of them in South Asia, Africa and the East Asia-Pacific region, live with outdoor air so polluted it can cause serious physical damage, including harm to their young brains.
Across the globe, air pollution was found to be a significant contributing factor in the deaths of 600,000 children every five years.
Another report, released by the World Health Organization (WHO) in September 2016, found that an alarming 92 per cent of the world’s population live in regions that exceed the WHO’s recommended limits, with an estimated three million deaths a year – most of them in lower and middle income countries – linked to the effects of air pollution.
Of the deaths stemming from air pollution, 94 per cent are due to non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer.
“Air pollution continues to take a toll on the health of the most vulnerable populations – women, children, and older adults,” said Dr Flavia Bustreo, the WHO’s Assistant Director General. “For people to be healthy, they must breathe clean air from their first breath to their last.” – firstname.lastname@example.org
What the plan entails
– Dubai Municipality will soon receive a mobile station for air quality monitoring.
– The station, a first-of-its-kind in the region, includes 20 devices to monitor about 100 components and composites that pollute the air
– Dubai Municipality already has 13 smart air stations in different locations across the Emirate
– Data from 300 digital maps showing polluted areas and other factors
– Deadly gases and particles
– Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulphur Dioxide, Ozone – These gases irritate the airways of the lungs, increasing the symptoms of those suffering from lung diseases
– Particles – Fine particles can be carried deep into the lungs where they can cause inflammation and a worsening of heart and lung diseases
– Carbon Monoxide – This gas prevents the uptake of oxygen by the blood. This can lead to a significant reduction in the supply of oxygen to the heart, particularly in people suffering from heart disease .
Source : Khaleej Times