Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 67–80 | Cite as

Concentrations, sources and exposure risks associated with particulate matter in the Middle East Area—a review

  • Vasiliki Tsiouri
  • Konstantinos E. Kakosimos
  • Prashant Kumar


Rapid economic expansion, industrialization, urbanisation and construction in the Middle East Area (MEA) have led to an increase in the levels of air pollution, resulting in serious effects on human health. For the first time, this article provides a comprehensive synthesis of the currently available published information which deals with atmospheric particulate matter (PM) in MEA. The focus of the article remains on the PM sources, monitoring, health impacts and source apportionment. The key objectives are to identify the levels of PM pollution and the associated exposure risks, to highlight research gaps and to discuss future research directions. The limited number of monitoring studies available for MEA indicates that dust storms augmented by the rapid increase in urban population are the key reasons for the high PM concentration levels. The findings of reviewed monitoring studies suggest that the levels of both annual mean PM10 (20 μg/m3) and PM2.5 (10 μg/m3) concentrations exceed the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines during most of the non-dust storm episodes, and as expected, the PM pollution levels become even higher during dust storm episodes. For example, 24-h mean PM10 concentrations of over 1,000 μg/m3 were noted during a severe dust storm episode in Kuwait. The findings of the epidemiological and toxicological studies in MEA have shown that dust storm events have a significant impact on respiratory admissions and the adverse health effects of PM are particularly in the form of asthma and respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. It is concluded that PM pollution in MEA is a significant problem and quantification of PM emissions and the design of control measures to abate their impacts on public health are of primary importance. Besides, there is a need for more systematic PM data collection for source apportionment and assessment of PM levels that would enable air pollution-related health impact assessments of MEA. Furthermore, this review highlights that the release of airborne PM from major building activities such as building construction is largely unknown and emission inventories for different situations are needed.


Particulate matter Middle East Air pollution exposure Air quality management Fine particles 


  1. Abal AT, Ayed A, Nair PC, Mosawi M, Behbehani N (2010) Factors responsible for asthma and rhinitis among Kuwaiti schoolchildren. Med Princ Pract 19:295–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abdel-Moati MA (2008) Efforts to protect Qatar environment, Supreme Council for the Environment and Natural Reserves. Paper presented at the Human Health & Environmental Challenges, DohaGoogle Scholar
  3. Akbari S (2011) Dust storms, sources in the Middle East and economic model for survey it s impacts. Aust J Basic Appl Sci 5:227–233Google Scholar
  4. Al-Dawood K (2000) Epidemiology of bronchial asthma among schoolboys in Al-Khobar city, Saudi Arabia: cross-sectional study. Croat Med J 41:437–441Google Scholar
  5. Alharbi BH, Maghrabi A, Tapper N (2013) The March 2009 dust event in Saudi Arabia: precursor and supportive environment. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 94:515–528. doi:10.1175/bams-d-11-00118.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Al-Katheeri E, Al-Jallad F, Al-Omar M (2012) Assessment of gaseous and particulate pollutants in the ambient air in Al Mirfa City, United Arab Emirates. J Environ Prot 3(7):640–647. doi:10.4236/jep.2012.37077 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Alolayan MA, Brown KW, Evans JS, Bouhamra WS, Koutrakis P (2013) Source apportionment of fine particles in Kuwait City. Sci Total Environ 448:14–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Al-Zubi A (2011) Evaluation of the Jordanian environmental legislations. World Appl SciJ 14:1438–1444Google Scholar
  9. Amato F et al (2011) Sources and variability of inhalable road dust particles in three European cities. Atmos Environ 45:6777–6787. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2011.06.003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Babu CA, Samah AA, Varikoden H (2011) Rainfall climatology over Middle East region and its variability. Int J Water Resour Arid Environ 1:180–192Google Scholar
  11. Braunstein R, Goren A (2000) Changes with time in air pollution levels in Tel-Aviv and their effects on mortality. Epidemiology 11:S126Google Scholar
  12. Brook RD et al (2010) Particulate matter air pollution and cardiovascular disease: an update to the scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation 121:2331–2378CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brown KW, Bouhamra W, Lamoureux DP, Evans JS, Koutrakis P (2008) Characterization of particulate matter for three sites in Kuwait. J Air Waste Manag Assoc 58:994–1003CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bu-Olayan AH, Thomas BV (2011) Monitoring the dust deposition rate and trace metals levels in PM 1.0 from industrial areas of Kuwait. Arch Environ Sci 5:11–16Google Scholar
  15. Chen LC, Lippmann M (2009) Effects of metals within ambient air particulate matter (PM) on human health. Inhalation Toxicol 21:1–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Colls J, Tiwary A (2010) Air pollution measurement, modelling and mitigation. CRC Press; 3 edition (19 Aug 2009)Google Scholar
  17. Colvile RN, Gómez-Perales JE, Nieuwenhuijsen MJ (2003) Use of dispersion modelling to assess road-user exposure to PM2.5 and its source apportionment. Atmos Environ 37:2773–2782. doi:10.1016/S1352-2310(03)00217-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cooper JA, Watson JG (1980) Receptor oriented methods of air particulate source apportionment. J Air Pollut Control Assoc 30:1116–1125. doi:10.1080/00022470.1980.10465157 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dempsey F (2013) Forest fire effects on air quality in Ontario: evaluation of several recent examples. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 94:1059–1064. doi:10.1175/bams-d-11-00202.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dockery DW, Pope CA 3rd (1994) Acute respiratory effects of particulate air pollution. Annu Rev Public Health 15:107–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dockery DW et al (1993) An association between air pollution and mortality in six U.S. cities. N Engl J Med 329:1753–1759. doi:10.1056/NEJM199312093292401 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dominici F, Peng RD, Bell ML, Pham L, McDermott A, Zeger SL, Samet JM (2006) Fine particulate air pollution and hospital admission for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. JAMA 295:1127–1134. doi:10.1001/jama.295.10.1127 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dorevitch S, Demirtas H, Perksy VW, Erdal S, Conroy L, Schoonover T, Scheff PA (2006) Demolition of high-rise public housing increases particulate matter air pollution in communities of high-risk asthmatics. J Air Waste Manag Assoc 56:1022–1032CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Draxler RR, Gillette DA, Kirkpatrick JS, Heller J (2001) Estimating PM10 air concentrations from dust storms in Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Atmos Environ 35:4315–4330. doi:10.1016/S1352-2310(01)00159-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. EAD (2014) The national ambient air quality standards for Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD). Available at: Accessed May 2014
  26. EC (2010) European Commission, air quality standards. Available at: Accessed May 2014
  27. ELARD (2009) Environmental and social impact assessment of construction and operation of Syria cement and captive power plant and associated quarrying activities, Syria. Earth Link and Advanced Resources Development S.A.R.L. (ELARD). submitted to Syrian Cement CompanyGoogle Scholar
  28. El-Bagouri IH (2001) Marginal lands of the Arab world—constraints and potentials. In: Regional Workshop on Degradation and Rehabilitation of Marginal Lands in the Arab Region, Cairo, Egypt, 2-4Google Scholar
  29. EMEP/EEA (2013) Air pollution emission inventory guidebook. Technical report No 12/2013Google Scholar
  30. Engelbrecht JP, Jayanty RKM (2013) Assessing sources of airborne mineral dust and other aerosols, in Iraq. Aeolian Res 9:153–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Engelbrecht JP, McDonald EV, Gillies JA, Gertler AW, Casuccio G (2008) Enhanced particulate matter surveillance program Desert Research Institute, W9124R-05-C-0135/SUBCLIN 000101-ACRNABGoogle Scholar
  32. Engelbrecht JP, McDonald EV, Gillies JA, Jayanty RKM, Casuccio G, Gertler AW (2009) Characterizing mineral dusts and other aerosols from the Middle East—part 1: ambient sampling. Inhalation Toxicol 21:297–326. doi:10.1080/08958370802464273 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. EPA (2010) National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). Available at: Accessed May 2014
  34. ESCWA (2010) Transport for sustainable development for the Arab region: measures, progress achieved challenge and policy framework reportGoogle Scholar
  35. Gibson J, Thomsen J, Launay F, Harder E, DeFelice N (2013) Deaths and medical visits attributable to environmental pollution in the United Arab Emirates. PLoS ONE 8 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057536
  36. Government of Israel (1992) Abatement of nuisances regulations (air quality), 5752Google Scholar
  37. Guenther A et al (1995) A global model of natural volatile organic compound emissions. J Geophys Res: Atmos 100:8873–8892. doi:10.1029/94jd02950 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Gunasekar P, Stanek G, Lindsay W (2011) Advances in exposure and toxicity assessment of particulate matter: an overview of presentations at the 2009 Toxicology and Risk Assessment Conference. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 254:141–144. doi:10.1016/j.taap.2010.10.020 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hansen D, Blahout B, Benner D, Popp W (2008) Environmental sampling of particulate matter and fungal spores during demolition of a building on a hospital area. J Hosp Infect 70:259–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Heal MR, Kumar P, Harrison RM (2012) Particles, air quality, policy and health. Chem Soc Rev 41:6606–6630CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Henry RC, Lewis CW, Hopke PK, Williamson HJ (1984) Review of receptor model fundamentals. Atmos Environ 18:1507–1515. doi:10.1016/0004-6981(84)90375-5, 1967CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. HMR (2010) Environmental impact assessment for Sohar-II independent power project. Project No. HMR/2826. Report, July 2010. Environmental Engineering Consultants (HMR)Google Scholar
  43. Holmes NS, Morawska L (2006) A review of dispersion modelling and its application to the dispersion of particles: an overview of different dispersion models available. Atmos Environ 40:5902–5928CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. IES (2011) Ambient air quality. Integrated Environmental Solutions, Article 76. Kuwait Ambient Air Quality StandardsGoogle Scholar
  45. Jayaratne ER, Johnson GR, McGarry P, Cheung HC, Morawska L (2011) Characteristics of airborne ultrafine and coarse particles during the Australian dust storm of 23 September 2009. Atmos Environ 45:3996–4001CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Jimenez JL et al (2009) Evolution of organic aerosols in the atmosphere. Science 326:1525–1529. doi:10.1126/science.1180353 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Kam W, Liacos JW, Schauer JJ, Delfino RJ, Sioutas C (2012) Size-segregated composition of particulate matter (PM) in major roadways and surface streets. Atmos Environ 55:90–97. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2012.03.028 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Kappos AD et al (2004) Health effects of particles in ambient air. Int J Hyg Environ Health 207:399–407. doi:10.1078/1438-4639-00306 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Kellogg CA, Griffin DW (2006) Aerobiology and the global transport of desert dust. Trends Ecol Evol 21:638–644. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2006.07.004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Khamdan SA, Al Madany IM, Buhussain E (2009) Temporal and spatial variations of the quality of ambient air in the Kingdom of Bahrain during 2007. Environ Monit Assess 154:241–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Khodeir M et al (2012) Source apportionment and elemental composition of PM2.5 and PM10 in Jeddah City, Saudi Arabia. Atmos Poll Res 3:331–340Google Scholar
  52. Kouyoumdjian H, Saliba NA (2006) Mass concentration and ion composition of coarse and fine particles in an urban area in Beirut: effect of calcium carbonate on the absorption of nitric and sulfuric acids and the depletion of chloride. Atmos Chem Phys 6:1865–1877. doi:10.5194/acp-6-1865-2006 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Kumar P, Robins A, Vardoulakis S, Britter R (2010) A review of the characteristics of nanoparticles in the urban atmosphere and the prospects for developing regulatory controls. Atmos Environ 44:5035–5052. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2010.08.016 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Kumar P, Gurjar BR, Nagpure AS, Harrison RM (2011a) Preliminary estimates of nanoparticle number emissions from road vehicles in Megacity Delhi and associated health impacts. Environ Sci Technol 45:5514–5521. doi:10.1021/es2003183 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Kumar P, Ketzel M, Vardoulakis S, Pirjola L, Britter R (2011b) Dynamics and dispersion modelling of nanoparticles from road traffic in the urban atmospheric environment—a review. J Aerosol Sci 42:580–603. doi:10.1016/j.jaerosci.2011.06.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Kumar P, Robins A, Vardoulakis S, Quincey P (2011c) Technical challenges in tackling regulatory concerns for urban atmospheric nanoparticles. Particuology 9:566–571. doi:10.1016/j.partic.2011.06.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Kumar P, Mulheron M, Fisher B, Harrison R (2012a) New directions: airborne ultrafine particle dust from building activities—a source in need of quantification. Atmos Environ 56:262–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Kumar P, Mulheron M, Som C (2012b) Release of ultrafine particles from three simulated building processes. J Nanopart Res 14:1–14. doi:10.1007/s11051-012-0771-2 Google Scholar
  59. Kumar P, Pirjola L, Ketzel M, Harrison RM (2013) Nanoparticle emissions from 11 non-vehicle exhaust sources—a review. Atmos Environ 67:252–277. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2012.11.011 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Kumar P et al (2014) Ultrafine particles in cities. Environ Int 66:1–10. doi:10.1016/j.envint.2014.01.013 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Kurosaki Y, Mikami M (2003) Recent frequent dust events and their relation to surface wind in East Asia. Geophys Res Lett 30:1736. doi:10.1029/2003gl017261 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Kutiel H, Furman H (2003) Dust storms in the Middle East: sources of origin and their temporal characteristics. Indoor Built Environ 12:419–426. doi:10.1177/1420326x03037110 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Laden F, Neas LM, Dockery DW, Schwartz J (2000) Association of fine particulate matter from different sources with daily mortality in six U.S. cities. Environ Health Perspect 108:941–947CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Laupsa HDB, Larssen S, Schaug J (2009) Source apportionment of particulate matter (PM2.5) in an urban area using dispersion, receptor and inverse modelling. Atmos Environ 43:4733–4744. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2008.07.010 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. LEDO (2001) Lebanon state of the environment report. Ministry of Environment/Lebanese Environment and Development Observatory (LEDO) and ECODIT Liban. Beirut, LebanonGoogle Scholar
  66. Léon J-F, Legrand M (2003) Mineral dust sources in the surroundings of the north Indian Ocean. Geophys Res Lett 30:1309. doi:10.1029/2002gl016690 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Lim SS et al (2012) A comparative risk assessment of burden of disease and injury attributable to 67 risk factors and risk factor clusters in 21 regions, 1990–2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Lancet 380:2224–2260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Massoud R et al (2011) Intraurban variability of PM10 and PM2.5 in an eastern Mediterranean city. Atmos Res 101:893–901. doi:10.1016/j.atmosres.2011.05.019 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. MoE-Lebanon (2010) Republic of Lebanon, Ministry of the Environment. Available at: Accessed May 2014
  70. Nabi BGR, Halek F (2007) Aerosol size segregated of Tehran’s atmosphere in Iran. Int J Environ Res 1:58–65Google Scholar
  71. NAS (2010) Review of the Department of Defense, US. Enhanced Particulate Matter Surveillance Program Report. National Research Council. ISBN 978-0-309-15413-0Google Scholar
  72. OAPEC (2009) The Secretary General’s 36th annual report. Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC), KuwaitGoogle Scholar
  73. OAPEC (2010) Petroleum industry and trade vol 31. Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC), KuwaitGoogle Scholar
  74. Pant P, Harrison RM (2012) Critical review of receptor modelling for particulate matter: a case study of India. Atmos Environ 49:1–12. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2011.11.060 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Pant P, Harrison RM (2013) Estimation of the contribution of road traffic emissions to particulate matter concentrations from field measurements: a review. Atmos Environ 77:78–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Papayannis A et al (2008) Systematic lidar observations of Saharan dust over Europe in the frame of EARLINET (2000–2002). J Geophys Res D: Atmos 113:D10204. doi:10.1029/2007jd009028 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. PME (2012) Ambient air quality standard. These standards amend the current General Environmental Regulation (GER) Standards for the Environment through document number 1409-01 which appends the GER and is issued and enforced by the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME)Google Scholar
  78. Pope J (2011) Qatar's construction sector in WWL -WHO'SWHOLEGAL. Available at: Accessed May 2014
  79. Pope CA, Dockery DW (2006) Health effects of fine particulate air pollution: lines that connect. J Air Waste Manage Assoc 56:709–742CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Pope CA 3rd, Burnett RT, Thun MJ, Calle EE, Krewski D, Ito K, Thurston GD (2002) Lung cancer, cardiopulmonary mortality, and long-term exposure to fine particulate air pollution. JAMA 287:1132–1141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Saliba N, Massoud R (2011) A comparative review of PM levels, sources, and their likely fates in the Eastern Mediterranean region. In: Zereini F, Wiseman CLS (eds) Urban airborne particulate matter. Environmental Science and Engineering. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, pp 3-17. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-12278-1_1
  82. Sarnat JA et al (2010) Assessing the spatial and temporal variability of fine particulate matter components in Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian cities. Atmos Environ 44:2383–2392. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2010.04.007 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Shahsavani A et al (2012) The evaluation of PM10, PM2.5, and PM1 concentrations during the Middle Eastern Dust (MED) events in Ahvaz, Iran, from April through September 2010. J Arid Environ 77:72–83. doi:10.1016/j.jaridenv.2011.09.007 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Shao Y (2008) Physics and modelling of wind erosion. vol Atmospheric and Oceanographic Sciences Library, 2nd Edition edn. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  85. Sowlat MH, Naddafi K, Yunesian M, Jackson PL, Shahsavani A (2012) Source apportionment of total suspended particulates in an arid area in southwestern Iran using positive matrix factorization. B Environ Contam Tox 88:735–740. doi:10.1007/s00128-012-0560-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Sowlat MH, Naddafi K, Yunesian M, Jackson PL, Lotfi S, Shahsavani A (2013) PM10 source apportionment in Ahvaz, Iran, using positive matrix factorization. CLEAN – Soil, Air, Water 41:1143–1151. doi:10.1002/clen.201200131 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Sun H et al (2012) Gene expression profiling and pathway analysis of human bronchial epithelial cells exposed to airborne particulate matter collected from Saudi Arabia. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 265:147–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Swaine MD (1997) Ecology of forest trees in Ghana: ODA Forest Ecology and Training Project (FETP), ODI Forestry Research Programme (R4740) 1991-5. Overseas Development AdministrationGoogle Scholar
  89. Thalib L, Al-Taiar A (2012) Dust storms and the risk of asthma admissions to hospitals in Kuwait. Sci Total Environ 433:347–351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Tolba MK, Saab NW (2008) Arab environment future challenges. Report of the Arab Forum for Environment and DevelopmentGoogle Scholar
  91. Vedal S, Brauer M, White R, Petkau J (2003) Air pollution and daily mortality in a city with low levels of pollution. Environ Health Perspect 111:45–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. von Schneidemesser E et al (2010) Seasonal and spatial trends in the sources of fine particle organic carbon in Israel, Jordan, and Palestine. Atmos Environ 44:3669–3678. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2010.06.039 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Waked A, Afif C (2012) Emissions of air pollutants from road transport in Lebanon and other countries in the Middle East region. Atmos Environ 61:446–452. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2012.07.064 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Waked A, Afif C, Seigneur C (2012) An atmospheric emission inventory of anthropogenic and biogenic sources for Lebanon. Atmos Environ 50:88–96. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2011.12.058 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Wang S, Wang J, Zhou Z, Shang K (2005) Regional characteristics of three kinds of dust storm events in China. Atmos Environ 39:509–520. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2004.09.033 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. Washington R, Todd M, Middleton NJ, Goudie AS (2003) Dust-storm source areas determined by the total ozone monitoring spectrometer and surface observations. Ann Assoc Am Geogr 93:297–313. doi:10.1111/1467-8306.9302003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. WHO (2006) Air quality guidelines global update 2005 particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. World Health Organization, DenmarkGoogle Scholar
  98. WHO (2011) Air pollution—health topics. Available at: Accessed May 2014
  99. WRI (2012) Drylands, people and ecosystem goods and services: a web-based geospatial analysis. World Resources Institute. Available at: Accessed May 2014
  100. Zanobetti A, Schwartz J (2007) Particulate air pollution, progression, and survival after myocardial infarction. Environ Health Perspect 115:769–775CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vasiliki Tsiouri
    • 1
  • Konstantinos E. Kakosimos
    • 1
  • Prashant Kumar
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Chemical Engineering and Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety CenterTexas A&M University at QatarDohaQatar
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Physical SciencesUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK
  3. 3.Environmental Flow (EnFlo) Research Centre, FEPSUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK

Personalised recommendations