Take a deep breath…

If you’re a resident of Khalifa City or Ghayathi, you may have walked past one of these *points at featured picture* recently erected monitoring stations.

In all fairness, you might not have noticed. Even with the imagery-plastered paneling, new builds, especially bijou ones such as these, are often camouflaged in a city that is constantly evolving and building tower tops ever closer to the stars.

But what’s in the box?

Nope. Not Gwyneth Paltrow.

The structures themselves actually declare their purpose on the exterior of the build.

“Breathe easy. We are monitoring the air”

The assembled equipment inside the box and gangly electronic tendrils probing out of the top is for analysing air quality.

The organistation behind the stations, the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) is keeping a watchful eye on the impact of urban environments on local ecosystems (and human populations).


The EAD operates a total of 20 fixed and two mobile air quality stations, monitoring air quality and pollution across the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Analysis that looks at the levels of potential contaminants such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, ground-level ozone, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and lead.

The EAD’s aims in this area, are set out clearly on the agency’s website, “Outdoor air pollution is one of the most significant environmental hazards to public health in the UAE – so we’re working to improve quality across Abu Dhabi in many ways.”

Putting it on the map

You can check the findings of this research — with up-to-date readouts for specific locations — in a handy map interface on the adairquality.ae website. A feature that also has a handy traffic light system of peril, for easy reference.

Making a difference

So monitoring is one thing, but what is the EAD doing to help push the ‘improving air quality agenda’. Something that’s a key part of the UAE government’s vision for a sustainable future?

Quite a lot actually. In addition to its unending awareness-raising campaign, the agency is involved in a huge quantity of projects that aim to protect public health and the environment in the UAE and beyond.

The EAD in collaboration with other arms of the government has been instrumental in areas such as traffic reduction; reducing single-use plastic dependency; advising on ways to minimise the environmental impact of oil and gas, and other industrial processes; strengthening the legal, regulatory and enforcement framework for air quality and noise; investing in environmental research; promoting the use of the best available technologies and best environmental practices in all sectors; and educating the public with how they can help at home.

How can you help at home?

The Abu Dhabi Air Quality website lists a few ways in which we can each make a difference. And the impact of the individual is vital in this area. Marginal gains can have dramatic effect on something so critical.

Understand how air quality is measured, how it can affect your health and how to combat its effects.

Reduce the use of energy at home, insulate your home effectively and make rational use of your air conditioning system.

Use energy-efficient light bulbs and turn off the lights when you don’t need them: You’ll reduce your electricity consumption and have lower bills too.

Reduce the use of private transport- use public transit or join a carpool.

Switch to cleaner fuels and cleaner technologies such as electric cars, hybrids or natural gas vehicles.

Keep your vehicle engine in good condition with regular maintenance.

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The pandemic effect

Back in May we reported on the dramatic improvements to air quality during the National Sterlisation Programme. With schools closed and many UAE workers instructed to work from home since late March, there’s been a huge decrease in the number of vehicles on the road.

As a result, there’s been a 78 per cent drop in dangerous nitrogen dioxide levels. Other contaminants also saw significant drops.

And though levels have crept back up again, we finally have a case study of how quickly nature can heal, and what the immediate benefits are, of curtailing our bad environmental habits.

There’s no longer any excuse.

Images Provided/Unsplash