Reports December 05, 2012
Air Quality Assessment - the Case of Lebanon

The criteria pollutants Particulate Matter (PM), Ozone (O3), Carbon monoxide (CO), Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), Sulfur dioxide (SO2) have been recognized by national and international organizations as good indicators of anthropogenic emissions including among others those from vehicle, industry, construction, harbor and airport activities.  High levels of such pollutants have been directly linked with adverse health problems.  Hence, in an approach similar to most cities around the world, a review of the measured levels of these criteria pollutants in ambient atmosphere in relation to human health was used as guidelines to improve our understanding and management of the air quality situation in Lebanon and to develop strategies for the reduction in levels of key pollutants from emissions.

Until now, measurements of criteria pollutants in Lebanon have been relying on individual initiatives.  These initiatives are mostly conducted by research universities in Lebanon and are driven by research agendas.  Consequently, the current situation calls for several limitations in analyzing the existing data and the ability to draw conclusions about the status of air quality in Lebanon.  The limitations are mainly due to the lack of a national initiative of continuous measurements of criteria pollutants, and therefore it was difficult to establish a clear trend in pollutant variation over the years. 

While PMs and NO2 levels are reported to be high relative to WHO (World Health Organization) guidelines, CO and SO2 levels are low.  As for O3 levels, no trend can be established due to the lack of continuous data which is the major setback in developing a national air quality strategy.  Overall, this assessment underscores the need for mitigation of both PM and NO2 to ameliorate the growing health risks.  Current studies present several gaps in both the material and the methods used in establishing a casual relationship between air pollution and the estimated health impacts.  Limitations include the lack of unified data on medical records and air pollution measurements, and the absence of properly documented long term epidemiological studies.  Furthermore, much of the effects of air pollutants on the disruption of biodiversity composition, and the competitive balance in plant and animal communities is underestimated and has not been studied in depth or assessed properly in Lebanon, which is evidently seen in the lack of available documented information.

In order to resolve the major limitations, it is recommended that monitoring stations with fully automated instrumentation are installed in different regions in Lebanon.  The location of the monitoring stations will be based on hot spots identified in the current project.  A close collaboration between local administrations and councils, private and public institutions and the Ministry of Environment would ensure a wider coverage of the Lebanese regions.  Also, collaborative efforts in documenting the effects of ambient air pollution on human health, terrestrial ecosystems and environment, enrich our sources of data.  Most importantly, increase public awareness about the ambient air quality with the help of all public or private institutions.

At the national levels, there have been national efforts to reduce the problem of air pollution.  One of the major achievements is the completion of the air quality draft law that sets a comprehensive environmental plan.  A major step in this plan is to update the 1996 air quality standards which are necessary to make more accurate comparisons with the levels of air pollutants.


The full report will soon be available online.


  • Air Quality Assessment - the Case of Lebanon

    Air Quality Assessment - the Case of Lebanon