Cairo City air quality map

Live air pollution map of Cairo City

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Unhealthy for sensitive groups
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1 Maadi


2 US Embassy in Cairo


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How much interesting information about air pollution can be found on the air quality map for Cairo?

The air pollution map for Cairo is very easy to access from the main city page. The map icon is at the top of this main page and clicking anywhere on the picture will prompt a new page to open which is dedicated to all aspects of air pollution in the city and its surroundings.

When the map page is first opened, the viewer can’t help but notice the overall colour of the background. This colour is an indication of the air quality in the area. Currently, it is a mustard yellow which would indicate “Moderate” air quality. The significance of the colours used is shown in the legend at the foot of the page. These colours range from pale green to dark maroon and are used as a standard throughout the entire IQAir website.

There are also some coloured discs on the map just to the south of Giza. These show the location of the ground-level air monitoring stations, even though there are none in the city of Cairo. Cairo relies on satellite modelling to collect its data about air quality. These discs carry a number in their centre which is the US AQI reading for that site. This United States Air Quality Index figure is calculated by measuring up to six of the most commonly found air pollutants in the city air. These are usually both sizes of Particulate Matter (PM2.5 and PM10), ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide. Once established, the number can be used as a comparison when looking at air quality in different cities across the globe. It is strongly encouraged by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Looking back at the main page, within the coloured banner at the top of the page is the US AQI number. When there is an asterisk to the right of the number, it indicates that the information is derived from overhead satellites. However, the results are very much the same. The main pollutant measured in November 2022, in Cairo, was PM2.5 with a recorded level of 25.2 µg/m³ which is over five times the suggested figure of 5 µg/m³ as recommended by the WHO.

Is there more interesting information on the air pollution map for Cairo?

There is much more interesting information on the air pollution map for Cairo, but the screen needs to be viewed in full-screen mode in order to see everything on it. This icon can be found at the top of the screen.

Once viewed this way, a list of four choices appears on the left-hand side of the page. These can all be studied individually to get a better understanding of what each one does on the map.

The first option shows the location of the air monitoring stations in and around the city. As previously stated, there are none in Cairo but some can be seen to the south of Giza. These can all be individually selected to find out more information about that specific area of the city.

The next option would show the location of any wildfires that might be burning in the vicinity. At the start of November 2022, there were no fires within the vicinity. If there were any burning then option four should be consulted as this shows the speed and direction of the prevailing winds and gives a good indication of where the smoke may blow.

The third option is very theatrical as it changes the colour of the map to show the current quality of the air. Some viewers may find it distracting, in which case, once deactivated the map will revert to a more subdued colour palette which might be clearer to see and understand.

More information can be seen on the right-hand side of the screen in the form of a table. This table shows the ranking of world cities according to their levels of air pollution, starting with the dirtiest. By default, only seven cities are shown but the page can be explored in much more detail if that is what is required.

Is the source of the polluted air visible on the air pollution map for Cairo?

The source of air pollution is not directly shown on the air pollution map for Cairo, however, in addition to the sources of pollution in Cairo, the northerly wind which is the predominant wind throughout the year brings pollutants from the north of the city, including smoke from burning agricultural and solid waste, and these pollutants combine with the pollution in the city. The southerly winds bring different pollutants from cement and brick factories and other factories in Helwan and Tabbin. These add to the pollution within the city which is mainly caused by vehicle emissions and construction work. A lot of dust and soil particles are blown in from the vast Western desert.

Most of the sources of outdoor air pollution in urban areas are caused by causes beyond the control of individuals and require action by policymakers in cities as well as at the national and international levels, to promote the use of cleaner transportation, and more efficient methods of energy generation and waste management.

PM2.5 is used as a standard on the air pollution map for Cairo, but what is it?

Besides gaseous pollutants, the atmosphere is also polluted by particles. These particles (either in suspension, fluid or in solid-state), have a deviating composition and size and are sometimes called aerosols. They are often catalogued as 'floating dust', but are best known as particulate matter (PM).

Bigger particles, after being emitted into the atmosphere, quickly get taken down by gravity or are washed out by rain. The finer particles can remain in the atmosphere for a longer time (a couple of days to weeks). As such, these finer particles can be transported over longer distances. Another consequence of this longer stay in the atmosphere is the possible alteration of composition and the change of characteristics of the particles because of physicochemical processes.

PM2.5 are microscopic particles up to 2.5 microns wide and 30 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. When their levels rise, these particles form a mist in the atmosphere, and they enter the respiratory system of humans and enter their lungs.

Cairo City air quality data attribution


2 Data sources

Data validated and calibrated by IQAirData validated and calibrated by IQAir

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