Cairo Air Pollution A glimpse on Cairo’s air The path to the implementation of Law 4/1994, known as the Environment Law, is overworked with obstacles, but advancement is being made nonetheless. The need to regulate lead foundries and other polluting industries, cut down vehicle exhaust emissions often has environmentalists wondering which way to turn next. But the Ministry of Environment seems to be adopting a step by step approach that is producing concrete, but still finite, results. Cairo is one of the most important megacities in the whole world. Before defining Cairo as a megacity, we have to determine the definition of megacities as a whole.
They are cities that have a great increase in population with the beginning of the year 2000. According to the most current United Nations estimates there are about 23 megacities, 18 of them are in developing countries. They are becoming more pivotal because they determine how we will live on this planet on that new century. This century is not the century of small areas. It is of huge cities, which have significant and complicated problems that have to be resolved by constructing well-planned projects.
Cairo has many crucial problems, consequently; it has to be considered as a megacity. Overpopulation, traffic problems and all kind of pollution are notable problems in Cairo. In my point of view, air pollution is a very weighty problem that is capable of defining Cairo as a megacity. It is the air dust in the throat, black clouds of cars and bus exhaust, and some days a gray haze hangs over this swelling metropolis, which make up the problem. The biggest hazard facing Egypt today is air pollution, Salah Hafez said, executive director of the Official Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA). According to a report released last September by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), an estimated sixteen thousands deaths can be attributed to dust and particles in Cairo’s air.
Moreover, lead in Cairo’s air causes an additional ten thousands deaths per year, USAID estimated. Lead is mainly due to the presence of factories that make pure lead and old inefficient lead smelters that spew particles into the air. A habitual black fog of vehicle exhaust, lead fumes and other suspended particles has made Cairo one of the world’s most polluted cities, the Wall Street Journal reported. The government needs to make unleaded gasoline available and implement laws and incentives to make people switch, Peter Bjonson said, environmental counselor for the Danish Embassy in Cairo. Of AID’s $ 815 million 1995 budget, $ 50 million has been allocated for cleaning Cairo’s air. The agency plans to help the government of Egypt inspect vehicles to remove the biggest polluters from the street.
Natural gas might also offer some relief from the atmospheric pollution that blights Cairo. AID is researching a plan to change bus diesel fuel to natural gas and is investigating a scheme to reduce lead levels at smelter factories. Several Egyptian politicians opened the country’s first station for treating exhaust systems on buses to cut their toxic excisions. Environment Minister Nadia Makram Ebeid gave the public Bus Company its first vehicle operating on natural gas. The minister for military production, Sayyed Mehaal, said that the government has given itself five years to have all vehicles operating in Cairo area operating on natural gas, in line with the 1994 law on the environment.
I think this is really promising for the resolution of air pollution in Cairo, because Cairo’s pollution is exacerbated by traffic congestion. The Cairo Air Improvement Project CAIP (which is funded by the USAID) is also working with the Cairo Transit Authority and the Greater Cairo Bus Company to switch their buses to gas operating buses. This program is being carried out in collaboration with the petroleum ministry. James Howes, the CAIP Air Quality Manager said that aside form being cleaner than other fossil fuels, the compressed natural gas is a good strategic option for Egypt, which has extensive reserves of natural gas. One should not expect miracles, but something is being done to clean up Cairo’s notoriously bad air. A newly air quality monitoring system, an undertaking of the Cairo Air Improvement Project (CAIP), is tracking particulate matter and lead in the atmosphere. Nagwa Shoeib, public awarness and communications manager at the CAIP, confirmed that the project aims to reduce lead pollution by 90% and to bring down exhaust emissions from vehicles.
According to Shoeib, 20% of vehicles in the road are in need of engine regulation. The situation is very sensitive in industrial areas. Howes said, not surprisingly, the highest levels of lead particles have been found in industrial areas, especially Shubra Al Kheima, where there is a heavy concentration of lead smelters. He added that this is the reason why the project is a long-term monitoring effort. But Howes also said that they are monitoring to get a baseline. Hopefully in a year or two, they can report a significant reduction in Shubra Al Kheima air pollution.
Lately the government has focused more attention on indoor pollution than outdoors because of tourist complaints about unsanitary restaurants. One could realize those dirty restaurants, which have many cats that could easily sit on food tables. According to the National Journal Group, last November the government issued as environmental directive requiring the planting greenery to soak up pollutants and the installation of ozonators; machines said to manufacture and disperse ozone. The also make airborne contaminants harmless. But the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) said that the ozone machines are a sham.
A 1998 AID study said that the machines were ineffective and potentially dangerous because ozone is a poison. To conclude, environmentalists assert that cleaning Egypt’s air and other resources is not easy at all. They also said that the government needs to make a serious commitment, and industry and the population need to stick to the laws. Environmentalists are also hoping that cuts won’t be made in USAID’s environmental programs. We are depending on USAID, said Mr. Hafez.
USAID offered an experienced stuff, technology, and a sizable investment. he added. He thinks that the most appreciable challenge is raising public awareness. That could be promoted by advertisement through media. People should be advised to reduce using Insecticides or Irosoles. Organizations that raise people’s awareness should be funded as well in order to have the problem solved gradually.