April 1, 2023

With high levels warning of an “imminent danger” lurking in the lungs of people around the world, data from a new report released earlier in the week tracks a frightening increase in air quality deterioration. Concluding that “a large part of the population of most countries and from different continents breathes polluted air.”

The Global Air Quality 2022 report, based on research conducted by a specialized company (IQAir), examined PM2.5 air quality data from 7323 cities in 131 countries, regions and territories on five continents, monitored through verified global maps, which are constantly updated for air quality monitoring stations” that provide the data included in the report.

The data used in the report itself was collected from over 30,000 regulatory air quality monitoring stations and low-cost air quality sensors. According to the same source, “quality control stations”, which operate independently, were represented by “blue” signs, as in the case of Morocco, as well as “government stations, which were represented by red signs”.

Data from the report, a copy of which is available to Hespress, showed that the state of air quality around the world over the past year showed a “significant deterioration” in the countries of East and Central Asia; Especially in Pakistan and India, although in general there was an improvement in each of the African countries. As is the case with Morocco, which ranges in quality from “good” to “moderate” depending on regions and regions, followed by the Hespress newspaper when it updated the map with updated information in mid-March 2023.

It is noted, on the basis of the same data, that air quality differs in the sky of each region, while in the areas of the Atlantic junction between Tangier and Casablanca, as large industrial poles, it remains “moderate”; It improves whenever there is a trend towards the atmosphere of cities and the hinterland of the Kingdom.

“Expansion and rehabilitation” of monitoring stations

According to official figures from the Ministry of Sustainable Development published by Hespress, “the national air quality monitoring network consists of 29 air quality monitoring stations.” These stations, carrying out continuous measurements of gaseous pollutants, were located in urban areas far from industrial facilities, as well as in places inhabited by cars and industrial installations.

The results of this network typically predict the “degree of air pollution” before local governments and decision makers are informed about air quality; However, environmental expert Mohamed Benabu considered it “insufficient and does not cover all areas of the national territory.”

While he commends Morocco’s great efforts to monitor air pollution and limit its impact on public health, Benabou stressed in a statement to Hespress “the need to expand the monitoring and control network to include stations that monitor and control pollution that harms air quality due to for small, very small particles. Pointing out that “in the latest IQAir global report, this is based on the lack of sufficient data in most Moroccan cities (60 percent)”.

The network consists, according to data, of air pollutant analysis devices and data collection systems, data transmission devices via communication lines, a central point for obtaining and analyzing information; It is distributed in Mohammedia, Casablanca, Rabat-Sale, Kenitra, El Jadid, Safi, Tangier, Fez, Marrakesh, Agadir, Essaouira, Khouribga, Settat and Bensliman.

Morocco also has a “mobile air measurement laboratory”; Which aims to “assess air quality in cities”, “complete monitoring of emissions in parallel or in conjunction with fixed stations”, as well as “checking the representativeness of air quality measuring stations”. The aforementioned lab is also responsible for “selecting locations for air quality monitoring stations” and then “assessing the degree of air pollution from industrial facilities and others.”

“noiseless murderer”

In an interview with Al-Jarida, the same environmental engineer noted that “More than 5,000 deaths due to air pollution are recorded in Morocco every year,” based on the latest Greenpeace report on the Middle East and North Africa region. He described the figure as “large as it exceeds the number of deaths from traffic accidents, for which huge information campaigns are allocated.”

Benabou called for “monitoring the types of pollution caused by very fine particles, as they pose an immediate threat to the health and safety of citizens, especially vulnerable groups.” Before describing pollution as a “silent killer”.

The same speaker confirmed that air pollution phenomena are increasing significantly in the most energy-intensive and industrialized cities, especially in Kenitra, Casablanca and Mohammedia, and concluded by warning of “the spread of new pollutants represented by types of polluting and carcinogenic gases, especially near factories”.

International Standards

The included study, the most notable of which is presented in the report, focused in particular on fine particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers; as smaller, “more dangerous” pollutants; Because it “is able to penetrate deeply into the lungs and enter the bloodstream when inhaled.”

The report points out that the sources of these particles are numerous, such as “burning fossil fuels”, sandstorms, as well as the remnants of forest fires. It also sounded a warning that many health problems, including “asthma, heart disease, and other respiratory illnesses,” continue to be caused by poor air quality.

In the same context, the World Health Organization sought to tighten its annual air pollution guidelines in September 2021 by lowering the allowable amount of fine particles from 10 to 5 micrograms per cubic meter.

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