Desert dust was assumed to be the primary contributor to elevated air pollution across the Middle East.
Desert dust was assumed to be the primary contributor to elevated air pollution across the Middle East. Now, an international team of scientists including researchers from KAUST has shown that pollution from anthropogenic sources contributes to health risks and is an important climate factor across the region.
“The conventional thinking was that dust carried by storms over the Arabian Peninsula dominated air quality over the region,” says Sergey Osipov from the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Chemistry, whose team worked on the project, KAUST’s Georgiy Stenchikov and Alexander Ukhov, and colleagues from King Saud University and The Cyprus Institute.
“Our research has demonstrated that hazardous fine particulate matter, which is distinct from the less harmful coarse desert dust particles, is largely anthropogenic in origin and is a leading health risk factor, as well a significant contributor to climate change,” Osipov says.
Air pollution accounts for around 745 per 100,000 excess deaths per year in the region, says Osipov, which is similar to other leading health risk factors, such as tobacco smoking and high cholesterol.
Read More at: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
A visible layer of air pollution stretches out across the sea. Photograph taken from the research vessel during the AQABA campaign. (Photo Credit: © 2022 AQABA project.)