Amid the turmoil and disappointment of Egyptian President Mubarak’s refusal to leave Egypt despite ongoing and increasingly desperate protests, an unexpected consequence has emerged. Infamous for its stultifying smog, Cairo is packed with factories and cars that create an unhealthy breathing environment for its constituents. Long term government plans include relocating the factories but in the meantime, despite Mubarak’s pleas for Cairenes to return to work, many businesses remain closed. This in turn has cleared the air.Al-Masry Al-Youm reports that Cairenes can breathe a little easier, even though the political drama is far from simmering down.
That’s because many factories are still closed, reducing the amount of emissions clogging up the sky. The problem, according to the paper, is that the air above Cairo has a low dispersal rate, meaning that pollutants linger longer than they should.
The result, according to the World Health Organization, 10-100 times the safe limit of toxic atmospheric pollution that local residents breathe in. The WHO also noted that the average person breathes in 20 times as much pollution as is acceptable.
The World Bank reported in 2002 that pollution causes environmental damage amounting to an average USD 2.42 billion or 5% of Egypt’s annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Unfortunately, political success – should it ever come for the Egyptian people – would spell further environmental disaster since the capital’s 12,000 factories and four million cars will be back in full swing. And the black cloud will return.
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