Air Quality and Climate Change Research
Air pollution is a mixture of solid particles, such as car emissions and dust, and gases mixed in the air. It has many critical effects on a country as it may affect people’s health by causing severe asthma and heart disease. The principal cause of air pollution is the high emission of sulfur dioxide (SO2) which results from the burning of sulfur that contains fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum. Kuwait is extremely dependent on oil production thus that’s the main cause of air pollution, and being considered one of the largest pollutants in the world. Kuwait is considered to have a hot, dry, desert climate with temperatures reaching 55 degrees Celsius during the summer. This hot weather usually lasts for six months per year. The per capita energy consumption in Kuwait has increased at an average rate of 7.7%, while in industrialized countries this rate is about 2–3%, so its about more than double the normal energy.
The high temperature causes an increase in the usage of electricity for air conditioning and refrigeration. This increases the pollutant levels in the ambient air. Furthermore, the Oil Fires of 1991 triggered the issue even more as more than 700 oil wells were burned by the Iraqi military forces. This caused the Kuwait Environmental Public Authority (Kuwait –EPA) to be established in 1995 as an official agency for the protection of the environment. They placed few fixed monitoring stations to measure ambient air quality in the residential areas. They measure the levels of pollutants such as SO2, NO2, and CO in air. A mathematical model was used to study the efficiency of the monitoring stations sites. There are six monitoring stations operated by Kuwait EPA that measures the quality of ambient air. The urban stations are located at Al-Jahra, Rabia, Mansorya, Riqqa, and Um Al-Heman, whereas one station is placed in a rural location in the northern part of the country at Um Al-Aish. The main goal of these stations is to measure the pollutant levels in Kuwait. The major sources of sulfur dioxide SO2 emission in Kuwait are the electrical power generation stations and water desalination plants. The power stations are located along the coast and use three different types of fossil fuels such as, gas oil, crude oil, and heavy oil.
In the 2001 study, the total monthly usage of fuel oil was used to estimate the SO2 emission rate from power stations. The study focused only on the power stations that have a major effect on the emissions of SO2. The emission rate of SO2 is calculated as a function of fuel consumption and sulfur content in the fuel: Q =FS (SO2)MW/ (S)MW where Q is the SO2 emission rate, F is the fuel consumption, S is the sulfur content by weight in the fuel, and SMW is the molecular weight of sulfur. Metrological conditions play a critical role in the spreading of pollutants emitted from the power stations. One-year hourly record of the surface and upper air meteorological data in 2001 was obtained from the Kuwait International Airport (KIA) that was used in this work for reproduction of the spreading of SO2 emitted from the power stations. Kuwait’s weather is divided into two parts: summer from April to October and winter from November to March. According to the data taken, SO2 emission rate rapidly increases in the summer (highest in August) and decreases in the winter. The monitoring stations provide five-minute measurement records of SO2 and are analyzed to calculate the daily average values for the year of 2001. Also, wind speed, wind direction, and ambient temperature from each monitoring station are collected. Fortran program was established to convert the five-minute measurement records to statistical daily records. These measurement records are used to investigate the performance of the ISCST3 model (Industrial Source Complex Short Term). The Industrial Source Complex Short Term (ISCST3) model is developed to obtain the spatial and temporal variations of SO2 over residential areas.
A mathematical model was used for the investigation of the efficiency of the monitoring stations sites. The Industrial Source Complex Short Term (ISCST3) was the model and it was approved and modified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This model shows how appropriate the existing monitoring location is for measuring the actual levels of SO2. Sometimes the location isn’t appropriate for measuring adequate levels of SO2. Additionally, this study investigates the performance of the ISCST3 model under the meteorological conditions in Kuwait. The model requires three main input data. First, it needs source information including pollutant emission rate (g s?1), location coordinates in UTM (m), base elevation from the sea level (m), stack height (m), exit stack inner diameter (m), exit stack gas speed (m s?1), and exit stack gas temperature (K). Also, it needs meteorological information including anemometer height (m), wind speed (m s?1), wind direction (flow vector from which the wind is blowing) (in degrees clockwise from the north), ambient air temperature (°C), stability class at the hour of measurement (dimensionless), and hourly mixing height (m). Finally it needs receptor information, which can be specified or generated by the program to predict the pollutants’ concentrations at the selected receptors.
Overall, the predicted daily average ground level concentrations of SO2 are compared with Kuwait-EPA Ambient Air Quality Standards (AAQS). The maximum allowable level for the daily average concentration of SO2, specified by Kuwait-EPA, is 175 ?g m?3. The 50 highest measured and predicted concentrations at each monitoring stations are used to carry out statistical analysis to evaluate the model performance. The Mathematical model indicates that the emissions of SO2 from the existing power stations exceed the allowable daily ambient air quality standard specified by Kuwait-EPA by as much as 600 ?g m?3. The model is in good agreement with the observed values but the stations need to be relocated for better measurements of the SO2 emitted. A Study was carried out on September 2017, that was done to analyze the quality of indoor air (IQN) in local schools in Kuwait, which was carried out during an entire academic year and covered all metrological seasons. A pollutant, unhealthy school environment can cause respiratory diseases, health complaints and loss of productivity. When the quality of indoor air is very poor, it will have disadvantageous effects on the academic performance, and learning of students.
The study was carried out on seven schools that were selected randomly from two different zones in Kuwait. The first zone, which represented the urban section of the study, was near the capital center while the second zone represented the industrial sector of the study and was near a region of oil and gas industry. Several sites were investigated for finding the indoor air quality and went through inspection for sources of pollution. The sites of inspection included classrooms, labs, teacher rooms, art rooms and roofs. The effects of indoor air pollution on people in general are noticeable even at low concentrations. It is reported that poor indoor air quality is related to the increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, low ventilation and indoor contaminations. Typically the concentrations of some pollutants in indoor air within a school campus are usually higher than the outdoor concentrations. A suggestion for improving a better indoor air quality (IAQ) was to increase the fresh air intake and to decrease the amount of emissions by cutting back the sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and pollutants in an educational environment in the school campus. The sampling process of the study included the search for many chemical compounds, VOCs, PM10 , and (PBDEs) from dusts from air conditioning (AC) units’ ventilation filters and other parameters such as temperature and relative humidity (RH) were also recorded during the inspection. The CO2 concentrations were measured through a CO2 meter and more than 900 samples were measured using pre-evacuated stainless steel canister.
290 samplers were collected to find the quantities of SO2, NO2, H2S. They were taken through a tube that had a cap on the end of it that consists of a filter that was impregnated with a solution. It was specified to absorb the pollutant so that the concentration of the pollutant absorbed could be measured. Air contaminations were transported to the tube by the open end of the tube. A very porous membrane was added to prevent turbulent diffusion to be done inside the sample by wind artifact which creates this problem, and the membrane it self was made out of stainless steel to protect it from mechanical damage that affect the results later on.
After collecting all the data needed for the study several statistical analysis techniques were carried out on the data obtained from the different schools to compare between the indoor air pollution quality (IAQ) in the schools that went through examination, seasons and the two area zones. The study showed that the concentration of carbon dioxide had dropped during the weekend, where no students were present as compared to its usual concentration during the weekdays. The CO2 concentrations in the teacher rooms were lower than any room usually occupied or is meant for the use of students. The highest pollutant concentration was found to be Formaldehyde which was the highest in the two zones in all climate seasons specially during summer. As for concentrations for VOC, it was found that there was not a significant difference in the monthly average VOC concentrations in terms of weather season variations. However, it was noticed that during winter all classrooms had lower TVOC concentrations. The inspection results also showed that elemental concentrations in PM10 were low and some were even under the detection limit. The VOC concentrations obtained from the study were not able to compared because of differences in the definition given for a certain range of VOCs type of measurements used and the times of sampling.
The results also showed that the concentrations of the pollutant Formaldehyde in the indoor air has had exceeded its concentrations in outdoor air, making it a critical pollutant in this matter. The fact that the indoor concentrations were higher than the outdoor concentrations indicates that the source of the pollutant is located within the indoor borders. The Formaldehyde concentrations have exceeded the suggested WHO guidelines of 100 ?g/m3 ?81 ppb’ in all schools locations in the two inspection zones. As mentioned before, the concentrations of carbon dioxide were recorded to be highest during the summer; this is due to the fact of high temperatures during summer. Even though carbon dioxide was considered to be the most common pollutant used, as the main lead indicator for indoor air quality (IAQ), but due to the many newly discovered pollutants it has lost his role in this matter. However, it still has a strong role as an indicator in this matter. It was found that the highest values of carbon dioxide were obtained during times of full occupancy in the school of students, teachers and employees. The use of air conditions systems has also a significant effect of the carbon dioxide concentration. The teacher’s rooms in most schools had, demonstrated the lowest carbon dioxide values comparing to other locations in school campuses.
Although, the carbon dioxide concentrations were relatively high, it was found that the average CO2 values in the entire studied classrooms were found to be lower then the average carbon dioxide value in the school rooms in the United Arab Emirates which is a neighbor country to Kuwait. It is also noticed that during times of natural ventilation the carbon dioxide concentrations are lower in classrooms compared to times when air conditioning systems are used. Conclusion: To conclude, both studies showed that the concentrations of air pollutants in Kuwait were high such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon dioxide (CO2 ) and other emissions and pollutants. The monitoring stations showed that some areas had high emissions of SO2 that exceeded the allowable limit as much as 600 ug m-3. The standard allowable limit was 175 ug m-3. The stations should be relocated for better measurements of SO2. The analysis of the indoor air quality in different schools in Kuwait located in two different zones showed that The highest pollutant concentration was found to be Formaldehyde which was the highest in the two zones in all climate seasons specially during summer. The concentrations of carbon dioxide were recorded to be highest during the summer, due to the increase in temperatures. Also, it was found that the highest values of carbon dioxide were obtained during times of full occupancy in the school of students, teachers and employees.