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Floating Toxins in Baghdad

Written by Safa Al-Helli

With the rise of global warming and the increase of greenhouse gases, destructive effects showing their symptoms in both the environment and human health. Iraq is a nation that has suffered extreme pollution with staggering numbers that only rise. Pollution in the atmosphere results from many contributions. The country has faced extreme exposure to deadly gases and chemicals resulting from wars and weak infrastructure. Lead contamination in Baghdad has entered waterways impacting water quality within the city, as a result of
human activity. The health and quality of water is an essential factor as it impacts all areas of the city. In Northern Baghdad, the Diyala river was tested for heavy metal pollution and is considered the most contaminated. The main cause for heavy metal contamination in Iraq is due to the production of oil as well as other industries. In the past decade, there has been an increase in the usage of vehicles that are powered by gasoline which contains traces of lead.
Studies show that about 200 tons of lead are being released each year into the atmosphere. For further investigation, an experiment was done in order to find an accurate amount of lead emissions. Both lead inspiration and discharge into the environment were measured by
studying palm trees. Palm trees are highly exposed to lead as it is absorbed by both the soil and the leaves from the air pollution. Lead contamination was done in the course of two years, which concluded the hypothesized increase. Additionally, other pollutants such as greenhouse gases are found in high numbers in air quality. This demonstrates the impact of air pollution on human health specifically regarding respiratory organs. Cars and vehicles hold the most responsibility for greenhouse gases emissions. Due to its richness in oil, Iraq holds many productions for extracting oil and relies on heavy usage of cars/vehicles. In addition to that, electricity does not hold a 24/7 availability in Iraq. Instead many people rely on power generators that emit mass amounts of contaminant gases. Since 2008, scientists
have been observing the air quality in Baghdad. It was concluded that the air housed many harmful microscopic elements such as mercury, arsenic, lead, silica, etc. Although these elements are invisible to the naked eye, it can cause severe damage to one’s respiratory
system which will then cause visible damage . According to a UN report, transportation in Iraq is responsible for 40% of gas emissions, it is expected to increase to 60%. The heavy and reliable usage on transportation systems is causing nothing but damage to both the environment and the health of the population. The release of these elements toxifies the air and the soil, affecting other aspects of the environment such as water banks and rivers. Frequent and heavy exposure to these toxins has been proven to lead to potentially fatal
diseases, including many types of cancers and low blood hemoglobin. If no action is taken to lower gas emissions, Iraq may experience a lower birth rate and higher death rate. In addition to that, individuals who come with frequent contact with lead are shown to have stored
amounts of the substance in their bone (lead triphosphate) which can damage the bones, brain and cause severe anemia. Furthermore, environmental health will also be severely impacted. The planet is already facing a major global warming crisis, and greenhouse gases are the main cause. Unfortunately, the lack of resources and infrastructure has delayed the development of the country to spend and improve its resources and services. All in all, simple measures are recommended (such as implementing laws or creating programs) to be taken to
better the wellbeing of citizens and their external environment.

Works Cited

Al-Hussaini, S., Al-Obaidy, A., & Al-Mashhady, A. (2018). Environmental assessment of heavy metal pollution of Diyala River within Baghdad City. Applied Water Science, 8(3), 1–6. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13201-018-0707-9

Aenab, A., Singh, S., & Lafta, A. (2013). Critical assessment of air pollution by ANOVA test and human health effects. Atmospheric Environment, 71, 84–91. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2013.01.039

Hana, A., & Al-Bassam, K. (1983). A survey of lead pollution in Baghdad. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 19(1), 3–14. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00176791

Chaichan, M., Kazem, H., & Abed, T. (2018). Traffic and outdoor air pollution levels near highways in Baghdad, Iraq. Environment, Development and Sustainability,20(2), 589–603. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-016-9900-

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