Fossil Fuels Make Up 90% Of Middle East Air Pollution: Study
Author: Patrick GALEY
In 2017, an international team of researchers set off on an epic voyage across the eastern Mediterranean, through the Suez Canal and around the Gulf, using specialised equipment to analyse air quality and particulate matter on shore. They found that the vast majority of small particles -- which can penetrate deep into the lungs, resulting in greater health risk -- were manmade, mainly from the production and use of fossil fuels. Writing in the journal Communications Earth & Environment, they showed how the region is blanketed in particularly harmful compounds such as sulphur dioxide, which is a direct result of oil extraction. Emissions from vessels in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world also contributed to the smog. "We have refineries such as those in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that are a big source of air pollution as well as ships on the Red Sea, and in the Suez Canal region," said Jos Lelieveld, lead study author from Germany's Max Planck Institute for Chemistry. "So the combination of all of these means that the air is much more polluted than what most people hope it to be." The team used health and mortality metrics to calculate the number of excess deaths caused by air pollution in the MENA region annually.