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Unhealthy for sensitive groups
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Unhealthy for sensitive groups|| 141 US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in Kuwait City is currently 10.4 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
|Wednesday, Dec 6|
Unhealthy 155 AQI US
|Thursday, Dec 7|
Unhealthy 163 AQI US
|Friday, Dec 8|
Unhealthy 164 AQI US
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 141 AQI US
|Sunday, Dec 10|
Moderate 96 AQI US
|Monday, Dec 11|
Moderate 100 AQI US
|Tuesday, Dec 12|
Moderate 84 AQI US
|Wednesday, Dec 13|
Moderate 73 AQI US
|Thursday, Dec 14|
Moderate 55 AQI US
|Friday, Dec 15|
Moderate 55 AQI US
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Kuwait City is both the capital and largest city in Kuwait, facing onto the Persian Gulf via the southern shores of Kuwait Bay. Of significant note is that it has one of the strongest currencies in the world, with many oil reserves, many of them having been stored in so called oil lakes, which have caused environmental disasters in the past due to them being set on fire, as well as seeping into the surrounding soil and water, making the areas uninhabitable for humans as well as any viable ecosystems.
With its hot desert climate, economy based around both the exportation and use of petroleum and fertilizers, there would subsequently be high levels of associated pollution as a result, which will be looked at in more detail.
In 2019, Kuwait came in with a PM2.5 reading of 38.3 μg/m³ as its yearly average, putting it into the ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ bracket, which requires a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 35.5 to 55.4 μg/m³ to be classified as such. As the group name suggests, certain portions of the population would be at risk to the air quality in Kuwait City, with months that rise even higher in the PM2.5 levels and thus cause further hazards.
This PM2.5 reading of 38.3 μg/m³ put Kuwait City into 259th place out of all cities ranked worldwide, as well as first place in all cities registered in Kuwait, showing that it indeed has some pollutive issues with its air occurring.
As mentioned previously, much of the air pollution sources stem from the use and extraction, as well as the exportation of fossil fuels and other naturally occurring resources beneath the earth in Kuwait City. Other sources would of course be vehicular fumes and emissions, a constant issue worldwide, and with some 4.1 million or more inhabitants living in the city, along with fuel subsidies and an increasing rate of personal vehicle ownership, there would naturally be a growing amount of pollution coming from cars.
Other types such as heavy duty vehicles like trucks, lorries and buses would all be responsible for adding to the pollution levels, with many running on diesel fuels as well as using old and outdated engines and motors that put out far more pollution than their cleaner counterparts. Levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) would be quite prominent in their permeation of the air nearby areas of high traffic.
Other sources of pollution include the burning of fossil fuels whilst fracking or drilling for the extraction of oil, and furthermore for the storage and mass transportation of it, which would require an endless stream of the aforementioned heavy duty vehicles to do so. These oil reserves are prone to catching fire, on small or large scales, the fallout of which is deadly for both humans and the ecosystem, rendering vast swathes of land and bodies of water uninhabitable, as well as killing off many animals vital for the environment.
Further pollution sources that fall outside of the main ones would be photochemical pollution buildup due to the high heat and sunlight, as well as dust and fine particles released from construction sites and road repairs, alongside emissions from factories, running once again on both diesel and coal.
Observing the data taken over the course of 2019 as an accurate measurer (due to lockdowns imposed over 2020 skewing air pollution results from restricted movement), it can be seen that whilst most of the years pollution levels were still elevated and hazardous, with potential to cause harm to the population, the months that stood out as the worst were the mid-end months of the year all the way through to the early months of the next year.
In simpler terms, air quality starts to noticeably degrade around August, with a PM2.5 reading of 41.5 μg/m³, in contrast to the reading of 31.6 μg/m³ in the month prior to it. These readings stayed elevated until the month of October, when an absolute peak was reached at 55.7 μg/m³, a reading that placed that month into the ‘unhealthy’ air quality bracket, a rating which requires a reading of 55.5 to 150.4 μg/m³ to be classified as such.
These higher levels of pollution continued on in the early months of the year, with both January and February coming in with higher readings of 46.2 μg/m³ and 36.6 μg/m³ respectively, before dropping further in March to somewhat less hazardous levels of air pollution.
As contrasting with the previous question, the months that came in with superior air quality readings were between March and July, with the exception of May, which came in with an abnormally high reading of 39.6 μg/m³, putting it back into the ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ bracket whilst all surrounding months fell into the moderate ratings bracket.
However, the months of March, April, June and July all came in with the best readings, and although by international standards they are still hazardous and have potential to cause harm to the young, elderly or other sensitive groups, they were still technically the cleanest. Their readings of PM2.5 were 29.8 μg/m³, 27.1 μg/m³, 30.9 μg/m³ and 31.6 μg/m³ respectively, making April the cleanest month of the year, followed closed by March.
With such a large amount of its pollution coming from its biggest source of stability, Kuwait City may be hard pressed to see any significant improvements in its pollution levels in years to come, but some aspects that may help would be initiatives such as imposing fines and charges on factories or industrial areas that cause the surrounding air quality to degrade to a dangerous or unacceptable level, holding individual businesses accountable for the amount of pollution they produce.
Further investment into the infrastructure of public transport may also go a long way in helping to reduce the year round ambient readings of PM2.5 and other pollutants found permeating the air. however, these would only reduce the numbers slightly, and ultimately the way that would be most effective would be to entirely change the way in which oil is both collected, stored and imported, which would require some drastic changes to current procedures, ones which the government is already starting to implement due to their recognition of permanent damage done to bodies of water, top soil and other areas rendered dangerous or uninhabitable.