Burden of disease attributed to anthropogenic air pollution in the United Arab Emirates: estimates based on observed air quality data

Sci Total Environ. 2010 Nov 1;408(23):5784-93. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2010.08.017. Epub 2010 Sep 9.


This study quantifies the national burden of disease attributed to particulate matter (PM) and ozone (O(3)) in ambient air in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a rapidly growing nation in which economic development and climatic conditions pose important challenges for air quality management. Estimates of population exposure to these air pollutants are based on observed air quality data from fixed-site monitoring stations. We divide the UAE into small grid cells and use spatial-statistical methods to estimate the ambient pollutant concentrations in each cell based on the observed data. Premature deaths attributed to PM and O(3) are computed for each grid cell and then aggregated across grid cells and over a year to estimate the total number of excess deaths attributable to ambient air pollution. Our best estimate is that approximately 545 (95% CI: 132-1224) excess deaths in the UAE in the year 2007 are attributable to PM in ambient air. These excess deaths represent approximately 7% (95% CI: 2-17%) of the total deaths that year. We attribute approximately 62 premature deaths (95% CI: 17-127) to ground-level O(3) for the year 2007. Uncertainty in the natural background level of PM, due to the frequent dust storms occurring in the region, has significant impacts on the attributed mortality estimates. Despite the uncertainties associated with the integrated assessment framework, we conclude that anthropogenic ambient air pollution, in particular PM, causes a considerable public health impact in the UAE in terms of premature deaths. We discuss important uncertainties and scientific hypotheses to be investigated in future work that might help reduce the uncertainties in the burden of disease estimates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollution / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Middle Aged
  • Observation
  • Ozone / analysis
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / mortality*
  • Risk Assessment
  • United Arab Emirates / epidemiology


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter
  • Ozone