|1||Al Quo'a, Abu Dhabi|
|2||Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi|
|3||Ras Al Khaimah, Ra's al Khaymah|
|4||Al Ain, Abu Dhabi|
|5||Gayathi, Abu Dhabi|
|6||Madinat Zayed, Abu Dhabi|
|7||Ruwais, Abu Dhabi|
|8||Al Maqtaa, Abu Dhabi|
|10||Mussafah, Abu Dhabi|
(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
live AQI index
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Unhealthy|| 157 US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in Abu Dhabi is currently 13.5 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
|Monday, Aug 8|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 141 US AQI
|Tuesday, Aug 9|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 137 US AQI
|Wednesday, Aug 10|
Unhealthy 158 US AQI
|Thursday, Aug 11|
Unhealthy 156 US AQI
Unhealthy 157 US AQI
|Saturday, Aug 13|
Unhealthy 168 US AQI
|Sunday, Aug 14|
Unhealthy 167 US AQI
|Monday, Aug 15|
Unhealthy 187 US AQI
|Tuesday, Aug 16|
Unhealthy 198 US AQI
|Wednesday, Aug 17|
Unhealthy 178 US AQI
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Abu Dhabi is a city located on an island in the Persian Gulf, with its urban area being home to some 1.48 million people. As well as being island based, it also has landmass located on the mainland portion of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Due to its geographical location with the associated meteorological conditions and climate, coupled with human based activity, Abu Dhabi is subject to some fairly elevated levels of pollution, which will be examined in further detail.
In 2019, Abu Dhabi came in with a PM2.5 reading of 38.4 μg/m³, a number that was high enough to put it into the ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ bracket, a grouping which as the name suggests presents a high risk for those who have preexisting health conditions, compromised immune systems, or vulnerable portions of the population such as young children, the elderly, as well as expectant mothers being particularly at risk due to the negative impacts of pollution on unborn babies.
With its yearly average of 38.4 μg/m³, Abu Dhabi came in at 258th place out of all cities ranked worldwide, as well as 2nd place in the UAE, coming in just behind Dubai, which had its own PM2.5 reading of 40.9 μg/m³, showing the two cities to have fairly similar levels of pollution.
As with many of its neighboring cities, Abu Dhabi suffers from air pollution (and other environmental issues such as water pollution and erosion) due to its rapidly expanding population, and the subsequent higher demand for energy consumption as a result.
As well as this, there has been a longtime use of its abundant natural resources of fossil fuels, mainly oil reserves, the use of which can generate large amounts of pollution when extracted and combusted, and is also not a long term sustainable source of energy, despite it having been the countries main source of economic stability for many decades.
To single out the main causes, one of them would be the use of personal vehicles, with a rising population needing evermore cars and motorbikes to navigate the city, as well as industry and tourism driving up the use of heavy duty vehicles such as trucks, lorries and buses, many of which still run on lower quality fuels, as well as diesel, both of which can put out much higher amounts of pollution than their cleaner counterparts would.
Other sources would be pollution from construction sites and related industrial areas, emissions from ships that dock around the coastal portion of Abu Dhabi, as well as fine particulate matter emitting from construction sites, road repairs, as well as the natural environment, with large amounts of finely ground sand and other materials all being able to cause lung irritation to those who breathe it.
Observing the data taken over the 2019, it is apparent that all cities in the United Arab Emirates suffer from elevated pollution levels during certain months of the year, and the same can be said for Abu Dhabi. The months that came in with the highest readings of PM2.5 were during the middle portion of the year, typically during what could be considered the summer months of the country.
This will usually begin towards the end of April, and can be observed with large jumps in PM2.5 levels, with April coming in at a lower (albeit still polluted) reading of 26.5 μg/m³, putting it into the moderate bracket.
Following on from this, in May the readings rose considerably up to 41.2 μg/m³, and continued to stay at these elevated levels until reaching a yearly high in August, when a reading of 55.7 μg/m³ was taken, putting that month into the ‘unhealthy’ category, indicating a very poor quality of air to breathe that could exact a harsh toll on the population, particularly the aforementioned vulnerable demographics.
These heightened levels of pollution continue until October, before dropping down rapidly to the more ambient readings of 21 μg/m³ in November, nearly three times less than what the reading was in the prior month (54.2 μg/m³ in October).
This is indicative that the summer months are when pollution is at its worst in Abu Dhabi, with extreme temperatures and high humidity often lending itself to trapping pollution in the air, as well as creating pollutive compounds such as ozone (O3) with the intense sunlight acting as a catalyst for its creation.
Once again referring to the data taken over 2019, with the exception of January, the months that fell outside of summer were generally recorded with considerably lower levels of PM2.5 in the air. PM2.5 refers to fine particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, making it around 3% the size of an average human hair, and thus of great danger to respire.
Along with other pollutants such as ozone, PM10, nitrogen and sulfur dioxides, they are all used to calculate the overall quality of air, or AQI, the air quality index. However due to PM2.5 being of such importance, it is often used as a main indicator of how clean any given body of air is, as well as being a major component in the overall air quality calculation.
Regarding the cleanest months, February through to April as well as November and December all showed the lowest readings, with November coming in at the cleanest with a PM2.5 reading of 18.2 μg/m³.
With pollution sources such as vehicles and construction sites running on fossil fuels being the main offenders, pollutants such as black carbon and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) would be prevalent in the atmosphere, with some examples of VOC's being ones such as benzene, toluene, xylene and formaldehyde, all of which have highly negative effects when inhaled, and due to their volatile nature find themselves in a gaseous form at much lower temperatures, making them easier to respire.
Other pollutants most prominently from vehicles would be nitrogen dioxide (NO2) as well as sulfur dioxide (SO2), with nitrogen dioxide being the main offending pollutant emanating from vehicles, often found in large quantities over areas that see large amounts of traffic. These are but a few of the pollutants that would be found in the air in Abu Dhabi, with other ones such as the aforementioned ozone also being present, as well as other fine particulate matters such as silica dust, gravel and sand particles all adding to the contamination of the air.