Coronavirus: Abu Dhabi announces cleaner air amid COVID-19

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Air quality in Abu Dhabi has improved during the government-imposed restrictions on movement and traffic aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the emirate’s Environment Agency (EAD) on Thursday.

The announcement puts Abu Dhabi in line with a global trend of cleaner air and clearer waterways as a result of the shutdown of human activity during the coronavirus.

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In a release carried by the official Emirates News Agency (WAM), AED said that air pollutants including nitrogen dioxide (NO2) had reduced in the city by 62 percent over the last eight weeks. NO2 dropped by 78 percent in the Al Maqta neighborhood, 70 percent in the Khalifa City A neighborhood, and 57 percent in the Hamdan Street area.

A chart showing the results of EAD tests. (EAD via WAM)
A chart showing the results of EAD tests. (EAD via WAM)

“Spanning a period of eight weeks, we have been monitoring air quality in Abu Dhabi and noticed a significant decrease in air pollutants which implies that limiting traffic movement has had an extremely positive effect on the environment,” said EAD Secretary General Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri.

The EAD assesses the levels of pollution using 20 fixed and two mobile monitoring stations. In line with international standards, it monitors about 17 types of pollutants, according to WAM.

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Drop in other gases in line with world trend

Alongside NO2, WAM also reported reductions in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carbon monoxide (CO) in the air, though it did not give figures for these pollutants.

“This trend is in line with the global improvement in air quality in several of the major cities of the world that have imposed strict regulations on movement to encourage social distancing and save lives. Wuhan was one of the first cities that revealed a notable improvement in air quality followed by other locations in Europe and the United States,” said Dr. Al Dhaheri.

“Within the region, several prominent organizations have also reported a drop in air pollution levels in countries across the entire GCC region,” she added.

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