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UAE ministry continues campaign against claims over air quality

ABU DHABI // Government organisations have continued their fightback against claims that the UAE has the most polluted air in the world.

Earlier this year, the World Bank released The Little Green Data Book, which said the country had particle pollution levels (PPM) much higher than the World Health Organisation’s recommended guidelines.

It said the UAE was the “country with the most polluted air”, which was immediately rejected by Fahed Hareb, director of air quality at the Ministry of Environment and Water.

On Tuesday, Mr Hareb said measures had been introduced to counter these claims and to ensure that the UAE’s air quality continued to improve.

This week, the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water announced a further 11 air quality monitoring stations would be built as part of its programme, called UAE Air Quality Network.

The ministry already operates 46 monitoring stations across the country, so an accurate picture of air quality can be compiled.

“The programme is aimed at unifying the seven emirates into monitoring air quality in the same way,” Mr Hareb said. “Now we can compare apples with apples.”

Mr Hareb said that most of the new stations would be built in Ajman and the Northern Emirates, further improving their ability to regulate the quality.

“With the air-quality network we receive data in real time. Before, we would get it on a quarterly or monthly basis,” he said.

As well as trying to disprove the World Bank’s claims, the Government has also taken other initiatives to improve air quality by launching new projects to further improve the already WHO-accceptable air quality levels of 2.5 PPM.

“The country has made significant efforts to improve the ambient air quality as an important component associated with quality of life,” Mr Hareb said.

Preventative measures have also been introduced by the Government, such as the deregulation of petrol, to reduce harmful emissions. Other schemes include the UAE Cabinet’s decision to regulate crusher and quarrying operations and cement and asbestos production, all of which affect air quality.

Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed, chairman of Sharjah Media Centre, highlighted the various projects to improve air quality and reduce pollutants in his emirate.

He said Sharjah was setting up the region’s first and the world’s largest waste-to-energy facility, which will use gasification technology. It will recycle 400,000 tonnes of waste a year to generate 85 megawatts of energy.

“All these initiatives aspire to protect the emirate’s environment and its precious natural resources, encourage a healthy lifestyle and reduce the emirate’s ecological footprint,” Sheikh Sultan said. “Sharjah has undertaken ground-breaking initiatives in the past few years to ensure its residents embrace best and healthy environment practices.”

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(via The National)