Vehicular emissions cost Arab countries $5 billion

November 13th, 2008 - 5:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Dubai, Nov 13 (IANS) Arab countries spend more than $5 billion annually to fight health problems caused by vehicular emissions, WAM reported Thursday.”The impact of vehicular emissions has not just been limited to human health alone, but it has also affected agricultural lands, forests, water channels, and marine environment,” said Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad, United Arab Emirate (UAE)’s environment minister.

Fahad was addressing the opening session of the EnviroCities 2008 International Conference organized jointly by Dubai Municipality and the Environment Centre for Arab Towns in cooperation with the Harvard School of Public Health.

Experts from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Qatar attended the three-day conference held under the theme “Sources and Health Effects of Air Pollution: Knowledge to Practice”.

Quoting a report titled “Arab Environment: Future Challenges,” issued recently by the Arab Environment and Development Forum, the minister said the Arab countries suffered immensely from the impacts of both primary and secondary air pollutants that led to an increase in respiratory, skin and eye diseases.

He noted that while the developed world spends only two percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on pollution related health care the developing world spends more than five percent of its GDP for the same purpose, which indicates the extent of air pollution in these countries.

The risks from growing pollution levels in the UAE, he added, underscore the need to develop the existing laws, standards and specifications for controlling air pollution in the country in order to face this threat.

“We should also adopt most modern techniques in monitoring, controlling and managing air pollution, and conduct more in-depth researches and studies to identify the health, social and economic impact of air pollution so that decision makers can rely on them for the future plans,” he said.

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