x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Tighter rules in Abu Dhabi for clean air

A strategy that 'will provide clear steps in air quality management' for the capital has been submitted to the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.

ABU DHABI // A strategy that “will provide clear steps in air quality management” for the capital has been submitted to the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.

As well as establishing pollution limits for certain industries, indoor air quality would also be a key priority of the strategy, said Dr Mohammed Al Madfaei, executive director of policy and planning for integrated environment at The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (Ead).

“Indoor air quality is one of the major concerns we are looking at in terms of protecting human health,” he said.

One way to tackle the issue was to cooperate with authorities setting up standards for the use of paints, upholstery and other materials within interiors.

Some materials were capable of emitting substances that were dangerous to health, hence the need for tighter regulation.

Another factor affecting indoor air-quality was the way air-conditioning systems were maintained, said Dr Al Madfaei.

Another way to improve air quality in Abu Dhabi and the rest of the country was to encourage regional research initiatives into the issue, he said. “Eventually, we would like to see a regional, GCC-wide air quality monitoring network,” said Dr Al Madfaei

Ead has been working on the document since last year. A presentation was made to the Executive Council for approval in June. Once approved “it will provide clear steps in air quality management”, said Dr Al Madfaei.

This was expected to take several months.

Some of the changes could include setting for the first time specific pollution limits for certain industries in the capital, in a move to limiting pollutants such as ozone and particulate matter.

Ground-level ozone, or smog, is formed when chemical compounds released from engines react with other substances already in the atmosphere in the presence of sunlight.

Particulate matter refers to tiny particles of sand, dust or chemicals, which are able to penetrate deep into people’s lungs. Both pollutants are public health risks and have been connected to a variety of complaints, including diseases such as asthma and bronchitis.

vtodorova@thenational.ae