BEIRUT: Lebanon’s city of Jounieh ranked fifth among the Arab world's 23 countries in terms pollution clusters, producing record levels of nitrogen dioxide, according to environmental campaign group Greenpeace.
In a report released Monday, Greenpeace listed Jounieh among the world's top 50 pollution hotspots, coming ahead of major cities like Cairo and New Delhi.
Satellite data produced by a European Space Agency satellite and analyzed by Greenpeace between June 1 and August 31 showed Jounieh’s nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions to be one of the highest in the world.
Nitrous oxide is a dangerous pollutant emitted into the air when burning fossil fuels such as oil and diesel, with the main source emanating from the transport sector and electricity production plants from the Zouk power factories, as well as the diesel generators located throughout the country.
Coal burning and transport emissions are the principal sources of air pollution in the region, the report noted.
“Air pollution is a global health crisis, with up to 95% of the world breathing unsafe air. With hotspots across six continents, ranging from cities to industrial clusters to agricultural areas, this new analysis shows us more clearly than ever before just how massive NO2 pollution is,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, a Greenpeace Nordic air pollution campaigner.
Meanwhile, Greenpeace Middle East campaign official Julain Jreissati acknowledged that "Lebanon's air is heavily polluted," yet expressed surprise at the alarming toxicity of Jounieh.
"It is a frightening warning that air pollution in the densely populated areas has reached very dangerous levels, endangering the health of Lebanese citizens," he said.
Nitrogen oxides (NOx) — including NO2 — are estimated to cause many thousands of premature deaths worldwide every year.
The world’s biggest hotspot over the three month period is Mpumalanga in South Africa, home to a cluster of a dozen coal-fired power plants with a total capacity of over 32 gigawatts owned and operated by Eskom. - With AP
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