x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

UAE scientists to study cars' contribution to smog

Air pollutants in car exhaust fumes that react with other substances to form dangerous smog will be the subject of a new study at the American University of Sharjah.

Scientists are to study what effect car exhaust fumes have on smog such as that shrouding the Dubai skyline last year. Jeff Topping / The National
Scientists are to study what effect car exhaust fumes have on smog such as that shrouding the Dubai skyline last year. Jeff Topping / The National

ABU DHABI //Scientists will spend a year studying the role played by car exhaust fumes in forming dangerous smog in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

Smog, or ground-level ozone, can trigger chest conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. It is also associated with an increased risk of cancer, and reproductive and birth defects.

The team will observe levels of carbon monoxide and non-methane volatile organic compounds, both of which contribute to smog. They will focus on the summer months when levels are highest and pose a health hazard to human beings, animals and plants.

They will also investigate the effects of season and wind on air quality.

A 2008 study based on guidelines by the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States found that UAE cities were only moderately polluted, compared with mega cities such as Karachi in Pakistan, Mexico City and Santiago in Chile.

"On average, toxic acetylene and benzene in Sharjah and Dubai are three to 10 times smaller in magnitude than those observed in those mega cities," said Dr Tariq Majeed, associate professor of physics at the American University of Sharjah and leader of the new project, which the university is funding.

Researchers will work in collaboration with scientists at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami, Florida.

vtodorova@thenational.ae