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28 February 2024

Air quality declines as number of cars rises

By Staff Writer



Air quality in Dubai continues to worsen as the number of vehicles on the roads rises by 12 per cent each year, according to an official pollution study.

A large number of vast construction projects has also added to pollutants in the air, which are contributing to rising local temperatures, the research said.

Measurements were recorded on the emirate’s roads and the results found that pollution from cars using petrol is 8.3 per cent worse than in Canada, a comparison used by Dubai Municipality.

Equally, air quality is 10.5 per cent and 11 per cent worse than in the American states of Virginia and Michigan, respectively.

Releasing the results of the study at a seminar, Redha Hassan Salman, head of the Environmental Protection and Safety Section in the Environment Department of Dubai Municipality, said the higher emission of pollutants was contributing to increasing temperatures, which hit 47.5C last year.

The survey at 43 locations across the city, carried out in co-operation with Roads and Transport Authority and Dubai Police from May 2007 to February 2008, collected data on vehicle emissions that account for 75 per cent of the city’s air pollutants.

“The idea was to measure pollutant levels in a vehicle’s tailpipe while the vehicle is plying on the road. Five major air pollutants – hydrocarbon, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide and smoke emissions – were detected. The remote sensing technology helped avoid connecting the testing device physically to a vehicle,” said Salman.

“The systems operate by continuously projecting a beam of IR/UV light across a roadway and adopt IR/UV light absorption principle to measure the pollutants. Using this technology we can measure multiple pollutants in a single pass.”

Salman said rapid growth of the emirate and the number of cars on the roads has led to the rise in pollution.

“Two factors point to a worsening air pollution situation in Dubai – the rapid pace of urbanisation and motorisation. Data showed that vehicles increased by an annual average of about 12 per cent. Dubai has about 541 vehicles per 1,000 population, which is higher than New York (444), London (345) and Singapore (111).”

The environment official said there has been an increase of 30 per cent in the number of vehicles in Dubai from 2005. “Vehicles in Dubai make 3.1 million trips a day, which is expected to increase to 13.1 million trips a day by the year 2020. This is precisely the reason behind embarking on such a project to know the percentage of vehicles exceeding the emission limits.”

Niranjan Vescio, General Manager at Environmental System Products, which supplied the equipment for the project, said better fuel, technology and maintenance will reduce pollution. He also suggested a 10-year retirement plan for vehicles on Dubai roads. (Wam)


The Numbers


The percentage by which Dubai’s pollution is worse than Canada’s


 he contribution of vehicle emission to the pollution levels

in Dubai


The number of trips vehicles make in a day in Dubai. It will rise to 13.1m in 2020