Abu Dhabi: Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, visited the National Meteorological Center (NCM) in Abu Dhabi, accompanied by Dr. Abdulla Al Mandous, Managing Director of NCM and President of the Regional Association II (Asia) of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and several senior center staff.
Joining them on the tour were Asilah Abdullah Al Mualla, Chief Executive of the Environment Authority of Fujairah, and representatives from the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), Dubai Municipality and from Ajman Municipality and Planning Department.
During the visit, the Minister launched an enhanced version of the National Air Quality Platform, originally launched in September 2020. Accessible to the public, the revamped site provides a real-time overview of the current state of air quality in the UAE, monitored by a network of state-of-the-art stations covering various residential, industrial and rural areas as well as areas near major roads. In addition to serving the community, the information available on the platform can benefit multiple sectors, including health and education. It also offers advice, especially for sensitive groups, to mitigate the impact of air quality on human health.
“Improve air quality”
Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri said, “Public health and environmental protection are strategic priorities for the UAE. Improving air quality is among the eight pillars of the UAE’s overall environmental policy, which was approved by the Cabinet in November 2020 with the aim of improving the quality of life, well-being and prosperity in the country, and to support the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
She added: “The National Air Quality Platform is an accurate scientific benchmark that allows us to track the progress of our national projects and initiatives aimed at increasing the AQI score to 100% by 2040. The launch of the upgraded platform in partnership with NCM aims to educate relevant entities and the community on a very important issue that is closely related to public health.
Dr Al Mandous said, “This joint strategic project between NCM and the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment reflects the great commitment to public health in the UAE, as it raises awareness of air quality and its impact on health. The second version of the platform helps reformulate many practices and develop innovative tools and projects aimed at improving air quality, which will have a positive impact on the environment and protect it from harmful air pollutants.
“Alongside our various partners”
He added, “At NCM, we are committed to supporting all national efforts to preserve the environment as a top priority of our wise leadership. In addition, we will continue to work alongside our various partners to develop initiatives that serve the objectives of the general environmental policy of the UAE and thus contribute to the promotion of the quality of life in the UAE. NCM will also ensure easy access for all community members to the air quality database across the UAE.
The National Air Quality Platform, available on the official NCM website at https://airquality.ncm.ae/, presents the Air Quality Index (AQI) , a simplified color-coded representation of the data collected from each air quality monitoring station. The AQI is based on measuring the levels of five major pollutants – carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), ground-level ozone (O3) and particulate matter. with a diameter of 10 microns or less ( PM10). The index uses a scale of 0 to 500, with 500 representing the highest level of air pollution. The lower the number, the cleaner the air.
The platform upgrade followed a series of consultation sessions with end users, a review of international best practices in this area, and benchmarking with similar sites. Based on the results, the data has been simplified and displayed in a more user-friendly way to make it easier for the public to understand. Additionally, the site now offers outdoor activity recommendations based on the air quality on any given day.
Air quality indicators
Users can check the air quality by zone and know the health risks associated with each level of air pollution, categorized by color. Green indicates air quality suitable for exercise and other outdoor activities for all individuals. Yellow indicates that the air quality is acceptable for most people, however, prolonged exposure may be uncomfortable for people with respiratory conditions or those who engage in strenuous outdoor activities, such as sports or physical work. Orange indicates that members of sensitive groups may experience minor negative health effects from exercising or performing strenuous activities outdoors, while healthy groups will not be affected. Red indicates that air quality may affect healthy people exercising or performing physical labor outdoors, with an increased impact on members of susceptible groups. Purple indicates that the entire population is likely to be affected, with the recommendation to avoid outdoor activities, and burgundy indicates a serious threat to the health of the entire population, with the recommendation to stay indoors.
Historically, air quality has been a top priority in the UAE due to its impacts on health, economy and environment. The country has given particular attention to this issue, selecting the increase in air quality levels as one of the goals of the United Arab Emirates 2071 centenary, and including it among the priorities of the environmental policy. General of the United Arab Emirates.