Lebanon’s coasts have been lying under a great yellow cloud, making sure we go about our daily lives with pride — to be proud for embracing a golden crow of smog.
This not-so-surprising phenomenon is obviously caused by the rise of pollutants in the atmosphere. Air pollution in Lebanon has been voiced as being a source of adverse health effects, environmental degradation and, ultimately, loss of annual economic GDP– as per the Ministry of Environment’s report titled ‘State of Environment’.
Studies since before the 2000s have shown a drastic increase in chronic respiratory diseases in elderly where the number grew sevenfold from 1994 till 1999. Other studies have shown the doubling of prevalence of asthma in children when comparing the same years, as per a report prepared by the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) titled ‘Compiled Literature Report on Selected Health Conditions in Lebanon’. Air pollution does not only harm your respiratory system, but also directly impacts your heart health and overall well-being (See Table 1).
Government reports have repeatedly voiced concerns about air pollution levels and the need to tackle the issue. Lebanon’s parliament has officially acknowledged and discussed the need to tackle air pollution from the transport sector; this has been mentioned six years ago in the country’s State of the Environment Report. The SOER is meant to be updated every 5 years as it analyses the trends and cause-effect relationship of environmental issues.
A Bankmed report mentions that 36,109 cars are being sold in 2013 and 18,388 are being sold in the first half of the year 2014 . This should give us a hint of what’s actually being done by the government to handle a problem that affects the wellbeing of the urban residents.
(Mills, 2016; IPT, 2016)
|Effect on health and environment (IPT, 2016; WHO, 2017; EPA, 2017)|
|Ozone O3||Risk increase for asthma morbidity and mortality, Green House Gas (GHG)|
|Carbon monoxide CO||Risk increase of heart disease, Acute exposure causes headaches fatigue|
|Carbon dioxide CO2||Greenhouse gas GHG|
|Sulfur dioxide SO2
Nitrogen dioxide NO2
|Risk of promoting asthma, bronchial symptoms, lung inflammation, reduced lung function|
|Particulate matter 2.5
Particulate matter 10
|Risk of developing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, and lung cancer|
|Volatile organic compounds VOCs||Acute effect on the immune system, the neural network, and hemoglobin
Risk of developing lower respiratory tract problems, causes mutations and types of cancer
Table 1, Air Pollutants and Adverse Health and Environmental Effects
Current efforts that target the air pollution problem have been searched for using the simple google.com vehicle, and the results were fun to explore as there is an actual ‘Environmental Resources Monitoring in Lebanon’ portal. It claims the following: “Air Quality information is available publically and freely, once a day from the website.
Yellow here (Figure 1) means that people with respiratory diseases like COPD and asthma are better off staying indoors.
Figure 1, http://aqicn.org/country/lebanon/
You can go ahead and follow the link to end up finding a dull map that pins ‘monitoring stations’ on the map.
Simple actions can be taken by simply deciding to imitate our mother country, France who is exemplarily mitigating air pollution emissions by managing the transport sector. Some examples include (Mairie de Paris, Paris plan to mitigate air pollution):
- Zoning of car traffic capacity, banning cars in city center
- Investing in bicycle lane infrastructure
- Promotion of carpooling and public transport use
- Subsidizing transfer from diesel to electric cars