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Air Quality

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According to the Environment Agency in Abu Dhabi,

Improving public health by reducing air pollution and improving air quality is one of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi’s (EAD) strategic priorities. Air pollution has both natural and man-made sources. The following information provides an overview of criteria air pollutants, their man-made sources, and the main health effects that are associated with their elevated levels.

WE ARE FULLY COMMITTED TO PLAYING OUR PART TO MITIGATE POLLUTION BY:
• Operating a network of 20 air quality monitoring stations spread out around Abu Dhabi Emirate;
• E-linking with other entities’ air quality monitoring networks and exchanging data to help us manage air quality better;
• Upgrading techniques for analyzing, modelling and reporting the information from monitoring stations;
• Strengthening the legal, regulatory and enforcement framework for air quality and noise;
• Conducting scientific research to improve our knowledge on air quality;
• Promoting the use of the best available technologies and best environmental practices in all sectors (power plants, oil and gas, transport, industry, etc.);
• Raising awareness and informing the public about the air quality status.

HOW YOU CAN PLAY YOUR PART:
• Understand how air quality is measured, how it can affect your health and how to combat its effects;
• Reduce the use of energy at home, insulate your home effectively and make rational use of your air conditioning system;
• Use energy-efficient light bulbs and turn off the lights when you don’t need them: You’ll reduce your electricity consumption and have lower bills too!
• Reduce the use of private transport- use public transit or join a carpool;
• Switch to cleaner fuels and cleaner technologies such as electric cars, hybrids or natural gas vehicles;
• Keep your vehicle engine in good condition with regular maintenance;
• Maintain the correct air pressure in your tires, it will reduce your fuel consumption, save money and prevent accidents!

Source: Environment Agency – AbuDhabi

The Air Quality Index (AQI) focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air. EAD calculates the AQI for five major air pollutants. These pollutants are:

• Particulate matter
• Nitrogen dioxide
• Carbon monoxide
• Sulfur dioxide
• Ground-level ozone

For each of these pollutants, UAE has established National Ambient Air Quality Standards to protect public health.

National Ambient Air Quality Standards
The National Ambient Air Quality Standards for UAE are:

Understanding the AQI
The Air Quality Index (AQI) is calculated according to the US EPA AQI classifications. The National Ambient Air Quality Standards for UAE correspond to 100 points in the AQI table, which is the level EAD has set to protect public health.

AQI values below 100 are generally expected to be satisfactory. When the values are above 100, air quality is considered, initially, to be unhealthy for specific sensitive groups and subsequently unhealthy for everyone as the values increase.

The US EPA classifies the health concern as follows:

Each category corresponds to a different level of health concern. The six levels of health concern and what they mean are:

Good: The AQI value for your community is between 0 and 50. Air quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.
Moderate: The AQI for your community is between 51 and 100. Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people. For example, people who are unusually sensitive to ozone may experience respiratory symptoms.
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups:  When AQI values are between 101 and 150, members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. This means they are likely to be affected at lower levels than the general public. For example, people with lung disease are at greater risk from exposure to ozone, while people with either lung disease or heart disease are at greater risk from exposure to particulate pollution. The general public is not likely to be affected when the AQI is in this range.
Unhealthy: Everyone may begin to experience health effects when AQI values are between 151 and 200. Members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.
Very Unhealthy: AQI values between 201 and 300 trigger a health alert, meaning everyone may experience more serious health effects.
Hazardous: AQI values over 300 trigger health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.

How to Calculate AQI
The Air Quality Index (AQI) is calculated for five key air pollutants:

• SO2, CO, NO2, PM10 and O3.

The AQI is determined by the component having the highest C/Climit ratio, where C is the concentration and Climit is the air quality standard for each component.
The 1-hour UAE National Standard for SO2, CO, NO2 and O3 is used to calculate the last hour’s AQI.
The UAE National Standard for PM10 is a 24-hourly average concentration. Please note that the PM10 AQI is calculated based on a 24-hour backward rolling average. This is calculated by adding the current hour’s average measurement to those of the past 23 hours and then averaging.

Source: Environment Agency – AbuDhabi

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