AIR POLLUTION & HEALTH IN KUWAIT
The air pollution problem presents health related issues in the oil rich country of Kuwait. The environmental issues aggravated as political and military turmoil between Iraqi army and allied forces took place resulting in Gulf war. The Iraqi army retreated against the military operation desert storm by the allied forces and hundreds of Kuwait’s oil wells set ablaze. The smoke from the burning oil severely damaged the environment. Environmental experts consider it as one of the worst environmental disaster as tons of toxic substances spewed into the air. After the Gulf war ended and Kuwait acquired liberty from the Iraqi occupation, the country recovered from the aftermath of warfare and now enjoys a very rapidly growing economy but the scar of environmental damage remains. This environmental damage is the cause of many health problems in the Kuwait’s population. Kuwait’s health reports show that during August–October 1991, 40% of patients who were under treatment were suffering from respiratory problems at main hospitals in Kuwait.
Kuwait is now on the forefront of industrial growth. These Industries and the gas guzzling vehicles on the road are the main source of toxin and fume dumps in the country’s environment, adding up to the problem of air pollution. Despite, the strict ecological measures taken by the government and environmental conservation agencies after the Gulf war, Kuwait ranks 10th in the list of most polluted countries in the world. These conditions have taken Kuwait on a top place where inhabitants are having an array of health issues due to conditions caused by air pollution. According to recent studies, the top most lethal diseases in Kuwait are coronary heart diseases, Strokes, Congenital Anomalies, Influenza and Pneumonia. These diseases are closely related with dangerously high air pollution levels in Kuwait.
Studies show that the high levels of primary and secondary levels of pollutants have a harmfully profound impact on the human health. Research studies undertaken in the Kuwait’s environment show high contamination due to air pollutants including Sulphur dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and secondary photochemical oxidants that include Ozone (O3) and compounds of Hydro-oxides (OH) and Nitrates (NO4) are main causes of crop contamination that end up in human food consumption leading to health complications. Moreover, in studies taken place on high levels of Benzene (C6H6, di bromo-chloro methane) along with bromoform, chloroform, and methylene chloride contamination on the industrial site in Kuwait exceeded the pollution levels of these same fatal agents in the US (St. Louis) and Italy (Modena). The high concentration of Benzene in lower atmosphere is known to cause leukemia. Khan and Al-Salem studied still births due to high levels of Nitrogen Oxides (NO and NOx) in Kuwait. The researchers used the ANOVA (analysis of variance, a statistical method) and based on a data collected for five years duration from 2000 to 2004 proved a rise in still birth from 153 (in the year 2000) to 196 (in the year of 2004). This study also correspondingly proved the increase in still births because of high levels of NO contamination.