Capital's ozone level improves

A study finds levels of potentially dangerous ozone in the lower atmosphere near the capital have declined.

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ABU DHABI // Levels of potentially dangerous ozone in the lower atmosphere near the capital have declined from last year, a study has found. Research by the American University of Sharjah (AUS) indicated a "moderate" ozone level of 30 to 35 parts per billion near the ground at Abu Dhabi International Airport. This figure, the university said in a statement, is close to 25 per cent down on the amount recorded by the same researchers a year ago.

Levels of ozone in the upper atmosphere were normal. Ozone higher in the stratosphere is beneficial, as it protects against harmful ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. At lower atmospheric levels the gas, created from hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides released by factories, vehicles and power plants, is harmful. The AUS team carried out its research with the UAE National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology in Abu Dhabi.

The researchers used balloons to collect air samples and measure the levels of ozone and substances called volatile organic compounds, which contribute to the formation of ozone in the lower atmosphere. "The measurements of VOCs provide an opportunity to study air pollution and photochemical smog near the ground in the UAE," said Dr Tariq Majeed, an assistant professor of physics at AUS and the principal investigator.

Scientists believe some volatile organic compounds increase the risk of cancer, reproductive problems and birth defects.