UAE air pollution levels safe for residents, ministry says

Pollution levels do not exceed measurements recommended by World Health Organisation guidelines.

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ABU DHABI // Fahad Hareb, director of air quality at the Ministry of Environment and Water, said pollution levels in the UAE were safe for residents.

Particle pollution levels, known as PM2.5, did not exceed measurements recommended by the World Health Organisation guidelines, he said.

According to the WHO, the UAE has a low mortality rate attributable to the environment, compared with other countries in the region.

Earlier this week, the World Bank released The Little Green Data Book, which lists the UAE as having a much higher rate of particle pollution than indicated by the latest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report issued by the US institution.

The book indicates that the UAE is exposing its entire population to levels higher than the WHO recommends. However, the NOAA report said the country had undertaken significant efforts to improve ambient air quality.

Mr Hareb said air quality was one of the leading priorities in the UAE because it was associated directly with human health, the environment and its effect on the economy.

The country has a target of 90 per cent adherence to the WHO air quality guidelines by 2021. Efforts have been made to properly monitor and regulate emission levels throughout the UAE in the past few years.

“There are currently 46 air quality monitoring stations, in addition to a range of dust monitoring stations in crusher and quarry sites as well as cement factories,” Mr Hareb said.

“The UAE has directed special attention towards the development of legislative frameworks necessary to reduce pollutants and emissions in order to improve air quality.”

Air quality is affected by natural and man-made pressures as a result of development, he said.

However, despite high consumption levels, more than 90 per cent of the UAE’s fuel for energy is natural gas, the cleanest and most efficient form of producing electricity from a carbon-based fuel.

Mr Hareb also said naturally airborne dust particles and major sand storms adversely affected air quality, especially in times of high humidity.