Middle East and North African (MENA) countries over the decades are experiencing rapid industrial and infrastructural growth combined with being the global hub of oil and gas industries. These economic transformations are associated with release of air pollutants including urban air toxics (UAT) through industrial, traffic, and constructional activities into ambient urban environments. UAT concentrations levels may exacerbate in most MENA countries considering high number of vehicular traffic populations and petrochemical industries which are one of the main sources of this pollutant. Therefore, the main objective of the study is to review major findings of UAT levels in urban areas across thirteen (13) MENA countries. The study characterizes various measured UAT, assesses their concentrations in ambient environment, and identifies their major sources of emissions by reviewing more than 100 relevant UAT papers across the selected MENA countries. It was found that benzene, heavy metals, formaldehyde, and dioxin-like compounds are the most reported UAT. The study concluded that road traffic, fuel stations, and petrochemical industries were identified as the main sources of ambient UAT levels. It was further reported that most of the studies were based on short-term ambient environment with limited studies in indoor environments. Therefore, it is highly recommended that future research should focus on innovative health impact assessment and epidemiological studies from exposure to UAT levels. Also embarking on sustainable mitigation approaches through urban greenery, eco-industrial estates infrastructural developments, and renewable energy shares will reduce UAT levels and improve human health.
Keywords: Air pollution; Industrial emissions; MENA countries; Traffic emissions; Urban air toxics; Urban cities.
© 2021. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.