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Ambient Air Quality

Environmental Planning & Studies


Inside View

Air Quality Monitor

Environment Department
Environmental Planning & Studies Section
Tel: 04-6066809 / 6066616
Fax: 04-7033565

04- 6066809 / 6066616 :
04 7033565 :


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( 10 2.5 1

( 10 2.5)

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( )AQI
150 100

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100 0

125 100


150 126





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150 300 /

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What is Ambient Air?

Ambient air refers to the outdoor air or any unconfined portion of the atmosphere. It
is a mixture of the gases:
Nitrogen (78%)
Oxygen (21% )
Carbon dioxide (0.03% )
Trace amount of Argon and other gases.
Air pollution occurs if there is a change in the composition of the ambient air caused by
air pollutants such as smoke, dust, gases, fumes, aerosols and odorous substances
that likely affects public health or damage to plants or building properties.

Figure 1. Air Quality Monitoring Stations

How does air pollution affect us?

The increased level of air pollutants leading to a poor air quality can cause various
health problems; primarily respiratory and cardiac diseases. Some air pollutants such
as benzene are categorized as carcinogens (cancer-causing substances). In addition
to causing health problems, air pollution has a great impact on the environment. This
includes decreased visibility, acid rain as well as damage to animals, crops, plants and
many other natural resources. The possible sources of air pollution include transportation,
power generation, industries, petroleum refineries, domestic sources and others.

Why do we have to monitor the ambient air?

It is the legal requirement in the provision of Dubai Local Order No. 61 of 1991 and
the UAE Federal Law No. 12 of 2006 to monitor the ambient air quality of Dubai with
the following objectives;
To determine the daily trend of air pollutants and to assess compliance with air
quality standards and objectives.
To evaluate the potential impacts of the air pollutants on the environment, as well
as health impacts on the population.
To provide the public with reliable and up to date information on air pollution.
To provide a sound scientific basis for the development of Air Quality Management
Plan that is cost-effective control policies and solutions.
To verify air quality prediction models for the increase of air emission

How do we monitor air pollution?

The Environmental Planning and Studies Section (EPSS), Environment Department

of Dubai Municipality has installed Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitors at six (6)
stations since 1994 and expanded to twelve (12) locations across the Dubai region in
2010. The stations are strategically located to measure air pollutants within areas of
high traffic, industrial, commercial and highly populated areas as shown in Figure 1.
These are fixed stations at Deira, Dubai International Airport, Emirates Hills, Emirates
Road, Hatta, Jebel Ali Port, Jebel Ali Village, Karama, Mushrif, Safa, Sheikh Zayed
Road, Warsan, Zabeel Park and a mobile station.

Note: Hatta and mobile stations are not now shown on the map.
TSP Inlet

The expanded air quality monitoring network

features the new monitoring equipment, which
is a compact module units containing specific
sensors to measure certain air pollutants
which is designed for long-term quantitative
and time integrated measurement. The
new monitoring equipment is highly flexible
instrument platform that can integrate to
measure air pollutants, including CO2 as well
as noise and meteorological parameters such
as temperature, humidity, wind speed and

Sharp Cut Cyclone

(PM10, PM2.5 or PM1)
and PM inlet tube with
Air Sampling Inlet
sample inlet

Solar Radiation
Shields and lockable
External USB Port

Management System
(TMS) with AC
compressor and
power module

What is the air quality parameters monitored?

Air pollutants, commonly known as criteria pollutants, for which there are local and
international standards to evaluate them against the standards are measured. These
O3 (Ozone)
PM10/2.5 (Particulate Matter less than 10 and 2.5 micron)
SO2 (Sulphur Dioxide)
NOx (Oxides of Nitrogen)
CO (Carbon Monoxide)
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are also measured at selected stations as well
as meteorological data (wind speed, wind direction, temperature, relative humidity
and solar radiation) is also measured to better understand the pollution patterns in
the area.

What are Air Quality Standards?

Air Quality Standards refers to the level of air pollutants prescribed by regulations
that cannot be exceeded during a given time such as hourly, daily, annually or other
specifically defined period. To determine compliance to the Air Quality Standards as
shown in Table 1, it is necessary to monitor the above air pollutants.
The results of air quality monitoring are analyzed and compared to a) existing air
quality standards, b) used to identify daily and long-term trends in air quality c) assess
the effectiveness of air quality management strategies and d) disseminate information
for purposes of decision making, strategic planning, structural development.

How is the air quality rating in Dubai?

For better public understanding, the Air Quality Index (AQI) is determined for reporting
daily air quality for each pollutant and station. The AQI is calculated for each pollutant
and ranges from 0 to above 150. An AQI value up to 100 generally corresponds to the
air quality standard for the pollutant, which is the level had set to protect public health.
Typically, the AQI is reported as the highest value occurring among all pollutants and
the stations.
The AQI benefits the general public in reporting the overall air quality, providing them
clear, understandable and consistent information regarding air quality and associated
health risk of air pollution.
Table 2: Dubai Air Quality Index
Air Quality Index (AQI)

Air Quality Rating Description

When the AQI is

Air Quality Condition is

0 to100

Clean Air

All Indicators are within

limits in all stations.

101 to125


Any indicator over the limit

up to 25% at any station.

126 to150


Any indicator over the limit

by 50% at more than one

150 above


Any Indicator over the limit

by 50% at more than one

Particulates (as PM10)
above 150 or 300 ug/

High Dust

Suspended Particulates as
PM10, above the limit

Table 1: Ambient Air Quality Standard for Dubai

Air Quality Indicator



1 Hr.


1 Hr.
24 Hrs.


1 Hr.

Particulate Matter as PM10

1 Hr.
24 Hrs.


1 Hr.
1 Yr.

Air Quality Standards




Color Band

Notes for public health advisory

Light pollution - effects are unlikely to be noticed even those who are sensitive to
Significant pollution - sensitive people may notice mild effects but these are unlikely
to need action.
Heavy pollution - sensitive people may notice significant effects and may need to
take action.

How can you avoid unhealthy exposure?

Your chances of being affected by heavy pollution are the increase or more strenuous
outdoor activity and the longer you are active outdoors. If your activity involves
prolonged or heavy exertion, reduce your activity timeor substitute another that
involves less exertion. Go for a walk instead of a jog, for example. Plan outdoor
activities for days when air quality levels are lower. Dont exercise near busy roads;
air pollution levels are generally higher in these areas.

Why should everyone be concerned about dust storms?

Dust storms can cause a number of serious health problems and they can make some
health problems worse. Dust is made up of tiny solid particles (particulate matter)
floating in the air. These tiny particles can get past the lungs natural defenses and
build up. This can harm sensitive lung tissue. Of course, during severe dust storms,
more dust can get into the lungs.
Dust irritates the lungs and can trigger allergic reactions, as well as asthma attacks.
In people who already have these problems these attacks can be serious and cause
breathing problems. Dust can cause coughing, wheezing and runny noses. Some
groups of people are more sensitive to dust than others. Finally, breathing a lot of dust
over a long period of time can cause chronic breathing and lung problems.

What causes dust storms?

The easiest way to tell if there may be a problem is if you see a lot of dust. For
instance, if the blowing dust is so thick that obscure visibility, then that could mean
that dust levels might be harmful.
Dust storms are caused by a combination of weather conditions, features of the
natural environment, and human activity. High winds can raise large amounts of dust
from areas of dry, loose, exposed soil. In this region, high winds are most common
during summer months or anytime of the year lasted for several hours or days due to
dust suspension.

Legislation and regulations that set air quality standards and emission limits.
Industrial facilities or any major projects such as power stations require approval
to ensure these companies operate within their limits
Inspections and investigations of companies that are out of compliance
Educating and informing the public about ways to reduce air pollution and protect
themselves from the effects of poor air quality
Implement annual car free days to significantly reduce emissions or smog-causing
pollutants from motor vehicles.

What can you do to help fight air pollution?

There are many things you can do to help reduce air pollution such as;
Drive less. Transportation is the major source of air pollution. Use an alternative
mode of transportation walk, bike, share a ride or use public mass transport.
Doing this will help a lot, even once a week.
Keep your vehicle well-maintained. Inefficient vehicles pollute more and cost
more to operate.
Keep tires properly inflated and check them monthly. Under-inflated tires
increase drag and reduce gas mileage.
Plan trips to combine errands. A cold engine emits more pollution and reduces
efficiency by 50%. Avoid excessive idling.
Avoid filling your gas tank to the very top. Spills and fumes contribute to air
pollution. Refueling at night in the summer reduces ozone production.
Report smoking cars, idling trucks or other illegal sources of air pollution such as
industries to the Environmental Protection and Studies Section.
Get involved. Promote the use of cleaner fuel or make your next car purchase a
fuel efficient car such as hybrids.

What can I do to protect others and myself?

The best precaution is simply to avoid going outdoor during severe dust storms.
If you must go out, spend as little time outdoor as possible, and avoid strenuous
exercise. Wearing some type of covering over your nose and mouth can provide
some protection from large particles. However, since the small dust particles are the
most harmful, staying out of the dust is the best solution.

What is Dubai Municipality doing to protect the air environment?

Sometimes air pollutants reached high levels that are really bad for our health and
can lead to long-term health problems; others can accumulate in the atmosphere and
harm the environment. The Environmental Protection and Studies Section (EPSS) of
the Environment Department has been monitoring and protecting our air quality for
over 20 years. The EPSS is responsible for: