The air pollution in Cairo is a matter of serious concern. Air pollutants that are very high are particulate, hydrocarbons and lead. All are cancer causing agents.
The World Health Organization reports that the Air Pollution in Downtown Cairo is 10-100 times what is considered a safe limit. Cairo is in the company of other Cities like Mexico City, Bangkok, San Paulo, Delhi which are among the worst Cities in the World in terms of air pollution.
The US environmental Protection Agency has published Risk data which states that above the safe limit, the risk of developing serious respiratory disease and cancer from inhaling particulate in air (dust & soot and hydrocarbons, heavy metal compounds) is: 2 persons for every 1000. In addition to that, the dispersion factor (how fast the pollutants in the air are dispersed because of the weather conditions like the wind, rain, air, temperature) makes a difference in the severity of exposure to air pollution.
Cairo has a very poor dispersion factor because of lack of rain and its layout of tall buildings and narrow streets, which create a bowl effect. I don't claim to have accurate data on Cairo air Pollution. There isn't any. I can make a reasonable assumption, that Cairo air pollution is similar to the low range of Mexico City & San Paulo, which we have good data for. I have been to Cairo four or five times in the past two years. The air is thick, gray and there is a haze over Cairo . The sky is not blue but gray. Very similar to Mexico City and Bangkok. The weather conditions make the dispersion factor twice as bad as Los Angeles, which has good air pollution data.
-Dr. Salah Hassanein
CAIRO - Egyptians in this capital city say it is harder and harder to be heard and to have a voice, but they are not talking politics. Well, not only politics.
What hey are talking about, or rather yelling about, is noise, the incredible background noise of a city crammed with 18 million people, and millions of drivers who always have one hand on the horn and rules-free way of thinking.
"Whenever I talk to people, they always say, 'Why are you screaming?'" said Salah Abdul Hamid, 56, a barber whose two-chair shop is on the corner of a busy street on the north side.
Mr. Hamid was, of course, screaming. It was 4 p.m. in Rhode al Farag, a typical Cairo neighborhood teeming with people and shops and cars and trucks and buses and horse-drawn carts. From his shop, the landscape of sound revealed a chorus of people, struggling to make a living, trying to assert themselves in a city, and in a country, where they often feel invisible.
Noise - outrageous, unceasing, pounding noise - is the unnerving backdrop to a tense time in Egypt, as inflation and low wages have people worried about basic survival, prompting strikes and protests. We're not just talking typical city noise, but what scientists here say is more like living inside a factory.
"It's not enough to make you crazy, but it is very tiring," said Essa Muhammad Hussein, as he sat in a cracked plastic chair outside the corner food shop his family has owned for 50 years. He was shouting as he talked about the noise, though he did not seem to realize it.
"What are we going to do?" he asked. "Where is the way out?"
This is not like London or New York, or even Teheran, another car-clogged Middle Eastern capital. It is literally like living day in and day out with a lawn mower running next to your head, according to scientists with the National Research Center. They spent five years studying noise levels across across the city and concluded in a report issued this year that the average noise from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. is 85 decibels, a bit louden than a freight train 15 feet away, said Mustafa el Sayyid, an engineer who helped carry out the study.
But that 85 decibels, while "clearly unacceptable," is only the average across the day and across the city. At other locations, it is far worse, he said. In Tahrir Square, or Ramsis Square, or the road leading to the pyramids, the noise often reaches 95 decibels, he said, which is only slightly quieter than standing next to a jackhammer.