Air pollution is an environmental problem. There is no doubt that the rapid increase in the population and development in the urban, industrial and social sectors have led to an increase in pollution rates, especially air pollution, due to the large the number of vehicles and the expansion of construction in industrial facilities.
Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research has carried out many studies and research projects to monitor and evaluate air pollution in factories, hospitals and oilfields that are associated with urban growth, which increase pressure on available resources such as electricity and water and exacerbate sand and dust storms.
In 2015, the director general of Kuwait Municipality revealed that the rate of solid waste in Kuwait reached 4,000 tons per day, which is very high, and makes Kuwait one of the top countries in the world in this domain and not only in the Gulf region. In July 2018, Kuwait recorded the highest air pollution score of 301 on the air quality index AQi, which measures the level of air pollution. Anything above 300 is considered to be hazardous with serious health effects. Some pollutants have increased due to the dust, gases and vapors.
The Environment Public Authority (EPA) confirmed the increase in pollution due to dust, gases and other industrial pollutants. The Green Line Environmental Group warned against a “sharp increase in particles causing cancer” and called for “caution, especially for people with respiratory diseases.”
I believe this topic is extremely important because it has an impact on the health of people and creates suspicions of the spread of diseases related to the respiratory system and cancer. The director of the Kuwait Cancer Center said in a press release in Feb 2018 that cancer is the second largest cause of death in Kuwait. I think the government’s continued denials and what newspapers and environment groups have mentioned through the years has created confusion with no clear answers.
We need to know the truth because inhaling this polluted air is causing a dysfunction in the performance of the body and leads to diseases. I believe that in order to protect the health of people, it is necessary to issue a special legislation for clean air, which will determine air quality standards and the percentage of pollutants allowed from each source, along with the development of a system to measure these elements to support air pollution research and organizing programs and awareness campaigns on pollution to raise awareness among the public.
Also, I think we need to conduct a comprehensive environmental survey of traffic in terms of the number of vehicles, study the efficiency of fuel combustion and the existence of systems to control pollution resulting from it. Also, a technical team should be readied to evaluate pollutants and the criteria for selecting air quality monitoring stations, as well as to make these data and information available to everyone and exchange information and experiences with environmental bodies in the GCC.
By Muna Al-Fuzai