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The Association between Dust Incidents and Respiratory Diseases in Abu Dhabi Research Paper

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Updated: Jul 23rd, 2019

Introduction

The climate’s peculiarities of the Middle East make the population of the countries in the region suffer from a lot of dust incidents every year which occur frequently in relation to the definite season. Summer is the period with the most intensive dust storms in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Iran, Syria, and Iraq.

The population of the countries with the similar weather conditions such as Lebanon and Israel observe the most drastic dust storms in spring. Dust storms are typical for the climate of Egypt not only for springs but also for winters. The problem is in the fact that such dust incidents as dust storms have a lot of negative effects not only on the environment and economy of the countries but also on their population’s health.

Researchers state that it is possible to examine the direct dependence of the development of respiratory diseases among the population of the Middle Eastern countries on the dust storms’ frequency (Akbari, 2011; Kutiel & Furman, 2003). Moreover, the possibility of frequent dust storms as the characteristic feature of the region’s climate negatively affects the development of such chronic diseases caused by the sandstorm dust as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The purpose of this research is to examine and describe the possible correlation between such dust incidents as dust storms and the prevalence of respiratory diseases in the Middle Eastern region with references to the situation in Abu Dhabi. The climate conditions of Abu Dhabi are characterized by frequent dust and sand storms which negatively affect the population’s state of health and cause different respiratory diseases which are often discussed as chronic ones (asthma and COPD).

The Nature and Impacts of Dust/Sand Storms in the Region of the Middle East

The causes of dust/sand storms in the UAE are the same ones as in any country of the Middle Eastern region. The sand storms are caused by the forces of wind and the prolonged droughts contribute to the development of the process. Thus, the wind affects the vibration of sand particles which later begin to saltate. Akbari states that then the particles of sand “repeatedly strike the ground, they loosen smaller particles of dust which then begin to travel in suspension” (Akbari, 2011, p. 228).

The Persian Gulf region “suffers from considerably more dust storms than the other regions. The averaged maximum occurs in the summer during which for more than 30% of the time there is a level of airborne dust that reduces visibility to below 11 km” (Akbari, 2011, p. 229). Moreover, dust incidents can also occur in spring and winter when the percentage of their frequency is rather low.

Dust storms are characterized by a lot of negative impacts which can be discussed as rather severe for the countries’ environment, economy, and social life of the population in relation to the increase of health problems, especially a development of the respiratory diseases.

Kutiel and Furman, with references to the investigations of the other researchers, determine such negative effects of dust and sand storms in the region as the reduced soil fertility and possible damage to crops which are harmful for agriculture. It is also possible to observe the extreme reduction of solar radiation, and the consequences of this process are the efficiency of solar devices. Sand storms can destroy telecommunications and other mechanical systems.

They result in the dirt, air pollution, and the increase of respiratory diseases (Akbari, 2011; Kutiel & Furman, 2003). Why are sand storms so risky for the environment and population of the UAE? Akbari pays attention to the fact that “a sandstorm can move whole sand dunes.

Dust storms can carry large amounts of dust, so much so that the leading edge of one can appear as a solid wall of dust as much as 1.6 km (1 mile) high” (Akbari, 2011, p. 228). The effects of this phenomenon can be dangerous for the territory where the process is the most intensive.

To prevent the negative effects of dust and sand storms which are observed in the region during the whole year, it is necessary to concentrate on examining the peculiarities of these dust incidents, accentuating the factors which contribute to their development. Moreover, it is also important to work out the system of effective decreasing the consequences of the drastic sand storms.

The economists pay much attention to overcoming the impacts of sand storms on the agriculture, the ecologists concentrate on protecting the environment from these severe processes, and doctors develop the ways to reduce the negative effects of dust and sand storms for people who suffer from asthma and COPD.

The problem of dust storms is also typical for the territories which have different climatic conditions in comparison with those ones in the UAE. In their research, Shao and Dong focus on the methods to cope with dust storms effectively at the territories of China, Korea, and Japan (Shao & Dong, 2006).

The researchers’ conclusions about the effectiveness of monitoring dust storms and modeling systems to predict the consequences and overcome the impacts can be effective for analyzing the aspects of the problem in the UAE because the negative effects of dust storms on the quality of the people’s life, their health, and social activities can be considered as comparable for these countries.

The Problem of Respiratory Diseases in the World and in Abu Dhabi

The increase of the amount of people who suffer from the respiratory diseases which have the chronic form can be observed every year. Moreover, chronic respiratory diseases become the cause for increasing the level of mortality in the definite countries.

According to the data presented at the meeting of Global Alliance Against Chronic Respiratory Diseases (GARD), asthma and COPD caused the death of 250 000 persons in 2005, and this number increases every year with taking the third position of causing the people’s death globally (WHO, 2008, p.1).

According to the results of Hajat, Harrison, and Shather’s research, respiratory diseases take the sixth position as the cause of deaths in Abu Dhabi. That is why, respiratory diseases are discussed as the influential factors for causing the persons’ deaths with references to non-communicable diseases (Hajat, Harrison, & Shather, 2012).

Mortality rate per 100 000 by Cause of Death and Nationality, Abu Dhabi 2010.

(Hajat, Harrison, & Shather, 2012).

The situation in the UAE can be compared with the situation in the countries with the similar climatic conditions. It is stated in researches that respiratory diseases is the main causes for the population’s deaths in Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon (WHO, 2006).

According to Nuwayhid, Youssef, and Habib, “rainfall decrease and increase in temperature will increase air pollution and consequently cause an increase in respiratory illnesses among urban populations, particularly in Egypt, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates” (Nuwayhid, Youssef, & Habib, 2009, p. 90). The development of these diseases is correlated with the frequency of dust incidents.

It is possible to determine such causes for developing the chronic respiratory diseases as the intensification of the air pollution caused by increasing the level of dangerous substances in the air. Breathing the extremely polluted air as a result of the industries’ development, a lot of people over the world suffer from the reduced lung function, different symptoms of asthma and COPD, and from chronic bronchitis.

However, the situation in the UAE is more complicated because of the fact the majority of symptoms of the respiratory diseases depend on the high level of presence of the sand and dust particles in the air.

Thus, the professors who presented their reports at the GARD meeting stated that the percentage of the morbidity and mortality caused by asthma and COPD is comparatively high in the Middle East, and the risky situation continues to develop (WHO, 2008).

In spite of the fact the main cause for the development of the chronic respiratory diseases is determined by the researchers as the climatic peculiarities and the frequent occurrence of dust and sand storms, the aspects of ‘civilization’ also significantly influence the prevalence of the respiratory diseases in the region.

According to Hajat, Harrison, and Shather, the increase of chronic diseases in Abu Dhabi, including respiratory diseases, is connected with the growth of the region’s status and its intensive development (Hajat, Harrison, & Shather, 2012). The definite aspects of the western way of life such as the growth of industries and transport can cause the people’s suffering from non-communicable diseases.

The rapid growth of industries “is causing air quality to become poor in the large cities due to motor vehicles and industrial emissions. The health impact can be seen by the fact that the incidence of respiratory diseases has increased in the past 10 years” (WHO, 2006, p. 44). The next important factor is smoking. Thus, the quality of the air decreases, and the peculiarities of the climate in Abu Dhabi contribute to complicating the situation.

Nevertheless, the researchers are inclined to associate the problem of respiratory diseases in the UAE, and Abu Dhabi in particular, with the peculiarities of the region’s hot and dry climate. Thus, occasional violent sand and dust storms can cause a lot of damage, reduce visibility, and contribute to worsening the health of those persons who suffer from different respiratory diseases.

In their investigation, Zaabi and the group of researchers concentrated on the connection between the development of COPD in Abu Dhabi and smoking. The researchers concluded that there are no direct connections between the health problems and smoking because of the fact there are a lot of the other factors which stimulate the worsening of the population’s health state in Abu Dhabi and the increase of the amount of people with chronic respiratory diseases such as COPD (Zaabi et al., 2010).

Thus, the question of more risky factors for developing respiratory diseases remains open because the situation in Abu Dhabi can be discussed as caused by the combination of the negative impacts of breathing the chemically polluted air, smoking, breathing the air with the particles of sand and dust storms.

Salvi and Barnes also focus on examining the possible correlations between the fact of active or passive smoking and the development of COPD, and they conclude that chronic asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease depend not only on the fact of smoking or the effects of biomass fuel but also on the combination of the definite socio-economic factors, and the peculiarities of the certain nations’ development (Salvi & Barnes, 2009).

The results of the research are significant for analyzing the role of such factors as, for instance, smoking and breathing the air polluted with the sand and dust particles for the development of the respiratory diseases.

It is possible to conclude that the prevalence of respiratory diseases in the UAE and Abu Dhabi is based on such significant factors as the progress of the life according to the definite western patterns, the industries’ growth, the development of the unhealthy habit to smoke, the pollution of the air with the sand and dust particles which is caused by the occasional sand storms.

Chronic respiratory diseases are the causes for a lot of deaths in the region, and the frequency of sand and dust storms can be discussed as the negative factor for changing the statistical data in relation to the issue.

The Connection between Dust/Sand Storms and Respiratory Diseases in Abu Dhabi

Today, a lot of people who live in Abu Dhabi suffer from coughing and wheezing, such chronic respiratory diseases as asthma and COPD. Mahboub, Santhakumar, Soriano, and Pawankar conducted the complex research to examine the peculiarities of asthma in the UAE, concentrating on the factors which stimulate its development and on the ways of the effective treatment (Mahboub, Santhakumar, Soriano, & Pawankar, 2010).

The problem is in the fact chronic respiratory diseases are often caused by the combination of negative factors among which it is necessary to focus on smoking and the climatic peculiarities of the region.

Thus, dust and sand storms are discussed as the most influential aspects for developing the people’s shortness of breath and worsening their chronic respiratory diseases. Kwaasi (as cited in Nuwayhid, Youssef, & Habib, 2009, p. 92) pays attention to the fact that sandstorm dust is a “prolific source of potential triggers of allergic and nonallergic respiratory ailments”.

Such dust incidents as sand storms in the UAE are the environmental risk factors which cause the prevalence of asthma, pneumonia, allergic rhinitis, pulmonary tuberculosis, and COPD in the region. The periods which can be considered as the seasons of dust/sand storms in Abu Dhabi are characterized by the patients’ frequent complaints about their chronic respiratory diseases or allergic rhinitis.

That is why, it is important for people to stay indoors when the violent sand storms occur in order to avoid the deterioration of the physical state of those persons who suffer from asthma or COPD.

Nowadays, many researchers agree that it is possible to observe the direct correlation between the development of asthma, COPD, and the other respiratory diseases and the frequency of dust and sand storms in the UAE because the particles of sand influence the respiratory system, causing its allergic reactions or worsening the chronic diseases (Nuwayhid, Youssef, & Habib, 2009).

From this point, the climatic and weather peculiarities of the region such as the vast desert area and the changes in temperature provoke dust incidents which cause a lot of respiratory diseases, and this logic chain ends with the high percentage of mortality affected by the development of respiratory diseases in the UAE (Hajat, Harrison, & Shather, 2012).

In spite of the fact dust/sand storms are dangerous for the people’s health in Abu Dhabi because of the peculiarities of this weather phenomenon, the situation can be complicated with the persons’ habit to smoke. Breathing the air polluted with the sand particles and gases, people increase the risks of worsening their physical state and developing chronic respiratory diseases.

The researchers pay attention to the fact that dust and sand storms can provoke the development of the respiratory diseases such as pneumonia and allergic rhinitis and can prolong the patients’ suffering from COPD and bronchial asthma (Zaabi et al., 2011).

It is important to note that the seasons of dust and sand storms in the UAE are the periods of the hot and windy weather when the percentage of the patients’ complaints about their health and respiratory diseases is extremely high, and it can be very low during the other seasons of a year. Thus, dust and sand storms are directly associated with increasing the level of respiratory diseases in the UAE, and in Abu Dhabi in particular.

It is rather difficult to find the ways of prevention from developing allergies and worsening asthma during the seasons of dust and sand storms because of the necessity to go outdoors and continue the everyday activity. That is why, doctors draw the patients’ attention to the importance of following some rules among which the avoidance of smoking and covering their nose and mouth while being outdoors.

Some easy forms of the respiratory diseases caused by the dust and sand storms which are typical for the region of the UAE can develop into asthma, lung diseases, and even trachea and bronchus cancers. From this point, the problem of respiratory diseases and its association with the frequency of dust incidents in Abu Dhabi is important for examining by the researchers because respiratory diseases are the cause for the premature deaths of the population in the region.

Conclusions

The high level of mortality from respiratory diseases in the UAE, and in Abu Dhabi in particular, is based on the peculiarities of the climate in the region when the hot and dry windy weather influences the dust incidents which cause the persons’ problems with the respiratory system.

Dust/sand storms affect the situation when millions of sand particles are distributed with the help of the wind and provoke the development of the allergic reactions. Dust and sand storms are frequent in summer and spring, and these seasons are characterized by the extremely high percentage of the patients’ complaints about asthma, COPD, and allergies. To avoid the negative effects of dust incidents, it is necessary for people to stay predominantly indoors and protect their nose and mouth when they are outdoors.

It is possible to conclude that the prevalence of asthma, COPD, and other respiratory diseases in Abu Dhabi is directly associated with dust storms in the region because these dust incidents provoke the negative stimulation of the people’s respiratory system, contributing to the development of a lot of symptoms such as coughing and problems with breathing.

Living in the UAE, people have to adapt to the climatic peculiarities in order to avoid the health problems, and respiratory diseases caused by these peculiarities can be discussed as characteristic for the population’s health in Abu Dhabi.

References

Akbari, S. (2011). Dust storms, sources in the Middle East and economic model for survey it s impacts. Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, 5(12), 227-233.

Hajat, C., Harrison, O., & Shather, Z. (2012). A profile and approach to chronic disease in Abu Dhabi. Globalization and Health, 8(18), 1-24.

Kutiel, H. & Furman, H. (2003). Dust Storms in the Middle East: Sources of origin and their temporal characteristics. Indoor Built Environ,12, 419–426.

Mahboub, B. H. S. H., Santhakumar, S., Soriano, J. B., & Pawankar, R. (2010). . Annals of Thoracic Medicine, 5(4), 217–221. Web.

Nuwayhid, I., Youssef, R., & Habib, R. R. (2009). Human health. In M. K. Tolba & N. Saab (Eds.) Arab environment. Climate change: Impact of climate change on Arab countries (pp. 88-98). Beirut, Lebanon: AFED.

Salvi, S. S. & Barnes, P. J. (2009). Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in non-smokers. Lancet, 374, 733-743.

Shao, Y. & Dong, C. H. (2006). A review on East Asian dust storm climate, modelling and monitoring. Global and Planetary Change, 52, 1–22.

World Health Organization (2006). Health system profile: The UAE. Web.

World Health Organization (2008). Global Alliance against Chronic Respiratory Diseases (GARD). Web.

Zaabi, A. A., Asad, F., Abdou, J., Musaabi, H. A., Saiari, M. B., Buhussien, A. S. M., Nagelkerke, N., & Soriano, J. B. (2011). Prevalence of COPD in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Respiratory Medicine, xx, 1-5.

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