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Health Effects Institute’s latest ‘State of Global Air’ report predicted that if Egypt’s air PM2.5
levels drop to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) safe limit (10 PM2.5), life
expectancy of the country’s residents would increase by up to 1.27 years.

According to the World Bank, the average life expectancy – the number of years a person is
expected to live – is 72 years. Egypt’s air pollution shortens its resident’s life
expectancy by 1.85 years ranking it as the second most polluted country in the world,
according to the Health Effects Institute’s latest ‘State of Global Air’ report.

Last year, Forbes published a report by The Eco Experts based on findings from a study conducted by Environmental Science & Technology Letters journal. This report studied the
PM2.5 levels of countries across the world.

PM2.5 are harmful particles in the atmosphere affecting the air’s visibility. Appallingly, Cairo’s PM2.5 levels are 11.7 times higher than the safe levels.

Causes and effects of air pollution locally

The WHO attributed air pollution to natural or human-caused release of pollutants into the
atmosphere. Pollutants related to human activities include vehicle exhaust gases, industrial
factories emissions, waste incineration, fossil fuel power plants and household combustion
emissions.

“Poor urban planning, which leads to sprawl and over-dependence on private vehicle transport, is also a major factor in accelerated pollution emissions,” according to the WHO.

As a matter of fact, the prime reason for air pollution in Greater Cairo is vehicle exhaust. The metropolitan city houses almost 25 percent of Egypt’s population. As a result, there are high levels of vehicle emissions in the densely populated city.

A study conducted by Egypt’s Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs traced 26 percent
of Egypt’s total PM2.5 levels to vehicles emissions in 2010. Back then, Egypt carried 5.9 registered vehicles.

According to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), Egypt had 9.9 million licensed vehicles by 2017, 36.8 percent of of which were centralized in Greater Cairo. The country witnessed a 67.8 percent increase in the number of vehicles from 2010.

In 2017, vehicle exhaust contributed to more than 43.6 percent of Egypt’s PM2.5 levels. This was 17 percent higher than 2010.

Harmful levels of PM2.5 in the air penetrates humans’ lungs. The particles can enter the bloodstream, and cause health deterioration that can lead to premature death. PM2.5-induced diseases include ischemic heart disease, strokes, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and respiratory infections, Environmental Science & Technology Letters journal says.

WHO attributed around 4.2 million annual deaths as a result of air pollution-related diseases. Moreover, BreatheLife2030’s report exposed that air pollution is responsible for more than 13 percent of Egypt’s annual death.

In comparison to other countries around the world

Countries with very dense populations like India and China, are
seriously threatened by air pollution. It is not hard to see why as these two countries – who
are the most populated countries in the world, housing more than 1.3 billion people each –
have high pollution levels as a result.

As per a study conducted by BreathLife2030, Delhi’s with PM2.5 levels skyrocketed to 143. But what is mind boggling is that while Egypt has less than 10 times China’s population, it is more polluted than China.

The State of Global Air data showed that Sweden has the least amount of air pollution in the world. Its PM2.5 is 50 percent below the safe levels ( 5 PM2.5), although the number of registered vehicles in Sweden as of 2017 was 4.8 million – less than 50 percent of Egypt’s total.

 

Author

Prior to joining Infotimes, Nour has worked as a multimedia reporter and video producer for several media platforms including Egypt Today, Business Forward and Egyptian Streets. She graduated from the American University in Cairo (AUC) in 2017 with a degree in Integrated Marketing Communications and a minor in Business Administration.

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