May 05 2012
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Geographical Coverage of EAD’s Air Quality Monitoring Network to Be Expanded
ABU DHABI: The geographical coverage of the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi ( EAD ) air quality network is to be expanded, as well as the number of parameters that are used to measure. In 2007, EAD established an ambient air quality network consisting of 10 fixed and 2 mobile stations covering air quality, meteorological and noise measurements.The purpose of EAD’s air quality monitoring network is to provide accurate, live data on air quality in order to identify eventual degradation in air quality that could potentially be affecting human health and environment quality. The locations of the stations are based on a comprehensive site evaluation, emission inventories, short term measurements and atmospheric dispersion modeling. Three years ago, EAD launched an environmental burden of disease study, in collaboration with the Health Authority – Abu Dhabi and the University of North Carolina. One of the studies carried out was to determine the air quality in Abu Dhabi and its possible correlation with incidences of some human related pathology. From its inception, EAD’s air quality monitoring network has revealed that the average dust concentration nowadays is 33% higher than the previous two years. Moreover, the number of days of dust storms has increased by around 15% from last year. The increase of the occurrence of dust storms this year is related to more frequent higher wind speeds creating the storms. As per EAD’s historical data extracted from its ambient air quality monitoring network, dust storms often occur in the UAE from February to March and from June to August. These "natural" sources normally give rise to the highest concentrations of suspended particles. Dust storms expose people to increased health issues such as irritation to eyes, allergic reactions, and respiratory problems, especially when people are exposed to the floating dust for a long period of time. In particular the elderly, children and people who suffer from respiratory conditions and diseases such as e.g. asthma, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or emphysema are vulnerable to develop these symptoms. For these people, exposure to a dust storm may trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks and may cause serious breathing-related problems. Prolonged exposure to airborne dust can lead to chronic breathing and lung problems, and possibly heart disease. According to EAD , dust episodes in March 2012 increased dramatically at all sites in Abu Dhabi, exceeding all international and national limit values set for the protection of human health. This phenomenon is of a regional character and covered the whole Arabian Peninsula. From February 1, 2012 until March 31, 2012, EAD’s air quality monitoring network recorded an excess of inhalable particles during around 48% of the measuring time (i.e. during 28 days out of the 60 measuring days). The concentrations during some of these days reached remarkably high levels that approached (on average) 7 times the national limit value.
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