Coronavirus: Abu Dhabi air quality improves as pollution levels drop

The capital recorded a 50 per cent decrease in nitrogen dioxide compared to mid-February

Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., February 12, 2019. Sunny but chilly weather at the Corniche.
-- (Probable Big Picture) Watersports enthusiasts enjoy the beautiful weather.
Victor Besa/The National
Section:  NA
Reporter:   Mustafa AlRawi
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Air pollution in Abu Dhabi has fallen dramatically after the capital restricted traffic movement to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi revealed on Thursday that it recorded a significant decrease in air pollutants.

"The data showed a 50 per cent decrease in the average nitrogen dioxide (NO2) [levels] in Abu Dhabi compared to the past six weeks," said Dr Shaikha Al Dhaheri, the agency's secretary general.

"The average levels have reduced from 56.95 µg/m3 before six weeks to 28.44 µg/m3 this week."

She said the decrease was a direct result of the safety measures put in place by the UAE government limiting movement across the country. Schools and universities have closed for the rest of the academic year and public and private sector workers are predominantly working from home.


"Transport is one of the main sources of nitrogen dioxide gas and with less vehicles on the street, there has been a noticeable difference in the air quality of the Emirate," said Dr Al Dhaheri.

"Similarly, significant reductions of other transport-related pollutants such as volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide have also been observed.”

The decrease in air pollution in Abu Dhabi is consistent with what has been happening to other countries across the globe.

As a result of the coronavirus restrictions on movement, most countries have reported clearer skies.

According to global reports issued by the European Environment Agency, pollution levels have dropped by 26 per cent to 51 per cent in cities such as Rome, Barcelona, Madrid.

The current data reflects the negative effect of traffic and construction work on the environment.

“However, there is an obvious commitment of relevant government agencies on a local and federal level who are all striving to move towards a more sustainable economy that works to improve air quality and combat the effects of climate change,” said Dr Al Dhaheri.

EAD monitors air quality in the emirate through an integrated network of 20 fixed and two mobile stations. The network evaluates 17 different parameters to assess the air quality.

A combination of two animated images show the fluctuation of nitrogen dioxide emissions across Europe from January 2020 until March 11, 2020. New data from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite reveal the decline of air pollution, specifically nitrogen dioxide emissions, over Italy.  This reduction is particularly visible in northern Italy which coincides with its nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, in this handout obtained by Reuters on March 13, 2020. European Space Agency/Handout via Reuters  THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.