Hard To Breathe In the Middle East – Latest NASA Images

nasa middle east pollution mapsCold weather and a booming industrial economy is making it hard to breath in the Middle East says NASA

Air pollution is a big problem in the Middle East particularly in cities such as Tehran, Cairo and the rich Gulf nations. The latest images from NASA, however, reveal the true extent of the problem with high concentrations of nitrogen dioxide lingering over cities and hospitals full of people with lung ailments.The NASA map above highlights the concentration of nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere in the first week of January 2013. Dark patches of orange reflect a high concentration of nitrogen dioxide which is a key emission from burning fossil fuels by cars, trucks, power plants and factories. I was really struck by these findings as Green Prophet writer Joseph Mayton published an article in late January after struggling with asthma attacks in Cairo. Surely not a coincidence?

“The doctor I went to and nursed me back to good health, was clear about what was causing my near constant asthma attacks: air pollution,” explained Mayton in his post.

“Unable to leave my flat during the day, I suffered and waited for my lungs to open and become used to the pollutants in the air. Finally, after nearly a week of treatment, I was in the clear and back able to walk the streets of Cairo. But it left me wondering the affects of pollution and asthma on Egyptians in the city.”

In a word, the impact of air pollution on the region is devastating. It kills 27 people a day in Tehran and it is believed that thousands, if not millions, of Egyptian children suffer asthma-related illnesses that go untreated. Air pollution also happens to be a bigger problem in the cold winter months. As NASA explain, during the winter people burn more fuel to keep warm and if that fuel is coal then you are left with more smog-producing compounds.

“In most times of year, the air higher in the atmosphere is cooler than the air near the ground, allowing warm air to rise and carry pollution up and away from its source,” they explain. “But in the winter, temperature “inversions” can form, where the air near the ground is cooler than the air at altitude. Polluted surface air rises a bit, but then runs into warmer air masses above and stays trapped near the surface.”

In sum, we are left with more pollution hovering over cities and the heads of its inhabitants.

For more on air pollution see:
Hospitalized From Cairo’s Air Pollution
Why 27 People A Day Die From Air Pollution in Tehran
Egypt’s Natural Gas Push Does Little to Curtail Murderous Air Pollution

About Arwa Aburawa

Arwa is a Muslim freelance writer who is interested in everything climate change related and how Islam can inspire more people to care for their planet and take active steps to save it while we can. She is endlessly suspicious of all politicians and their ceaseless meetings, especially as they make normal people believe that they are not part of the solution when they are the ONLY solution. Her Indian auntie is her model eco-warrier, and when Arwa is not busy helping out in the neighborhood alleyway garden, swap shopping or attempting fusion vegetarian dishes- with mixed success, she’d like to add- she can be found sipping on foraged nettle tea. You can find all of Arwa’s published work on her freelance site, and check out her musing on her blog. You can contact her @arwa_journalist or via arwa (at) greenprophet.com

3 thoughts on “Hard To Breathe In the Middle East – Latest NASA Images

  1. Hess

    That’s why Iranians need nuclear energy. Fossil energy is dirty, expensive and subsiding in time.

    Support Iran rights to peaceful nuclear energy!


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