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UAE upgrades 64 air quality monitoring systems to improve its global ranking

May 22, 2023

An initiative taken by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) as part of the Year of Sustainability

Dubai, UAE

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) has updated the classification of 64 air quality monitoring stations across the country that will help capture better air quality data and help the country assess its air quality and environment. This reclassification is consistent with the ministry’s 2022 directive that set forth the requirements for classifying these stations, reinforcing the country’s commitment to upholding the highest environmental and climate standards.

Abu Dhabi with 48 micrograms per cubic metres of pollution ranks 122nd while Dubai with 43.7 micrograms per cubic metres of pollution ranks 179th in air quality among 7,323 cities across 131 countries monitored on 2.5PM air quality data, as per the World Air Quality Report 2022 published recently.

The data used in this report was aggregated from over 30,000 regulatory air quality monitoring stations and low-cost air quality sensors. These monitoring stations and sensors are operated by governmental bodies, research institutions, non-profit non-governmental organisations, universities and educational facilities, private companies, and citizen scientists across the globe. The PM2.5 data in this report is measured in units of micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) and incorporates the 2021 World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guidelines and interim targets as a basis for data visualisation and risk communication.

Air pollution continues to be the world’s largest environmental health threat. Worldwide, poor air quality accounts for 93 billion days lived with illness and over six million deaths each year. The total economic cost equates to over $8 trillion dollars, surpassing 6.1 percent of the global annual GDP, according to World Bank. Exposure to air pollution causes and aggravates several health conditions which include, but are not limited to, asthma, cancer, lung illnesses, heart disease, and premature mortality.

“Air pollution most severely impacts already vulnerable populations. More than 90 percent of pollution related deaths occur in low-income and middle-income countries. Children under 18 years old, pregnant women, and older adults all have increased risk of developing or worsening health conditions from air pollution exposure,” says the World Air Quality Report 2022.

The reclassification of the UAE’s air quality monitoring stations is part of efforts to reach the “National Agenda for Air Quality 2031” goals. The MOCCAE launched this agenda last year in September, following approval by the UAE Cabinet. The agenda acts as a guiding framework for federal and local government bodies and private sector organisations to collaboratively monitor and manage air quality, reduce pollution, and boost air quality. It aligns with the broader objective of fostering a safe and healthy environment, improving living conditions, and meeting the UAE Centennial 2071 goals.

With the application of the station classification guide, numerous strategic objectives can be achieved. These include enhancing the communication of air quality status across different regions of the country, improving the annual reporting process for pollutant data to international sources, and equipping decision-makers to compare stations and devise necessary plans to boost air quality.

All government entities involved in managing and operating air quality monitoring stations cooperated in reclassifying 64 stations at a national level. This included the National Centre of Meteorology, Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, Dubai Municipality, Environment and Protected Areas Authority – Sharjah (EPAA), Ajman Municipality & Planning Department, Environment Protection & Development Authority Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain Municipality, Fujairah Environment Authority, and BEEAH Group.

In addition, the best practices from several countries, including the European Union, Canada, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and Kuwait, were considered during the guide’s development phase to classify air quality monitoring stations.