CAIRO: Environmental technology in Egypt has to be updated to keep pace with worldwide changes in the field worldwide as well as to tackle the increasing number of environmental challenges on the local front, said an Egyptian environmental official.
Dr Ahmed Mahmoud Shaaban, head of the Environmental Department at the National Research Center (NRC) told Daily News Egypt that the bulk of the technologies used to boost a clean environment locally go back to the 1980s, while others that are more effective and less costly should be introduced with immediate effect.
Shaaban spoke during the NRC’s third international conference on environmental studies, titled “Environment and Technology, which took place last week and drew a large number of local, Arab and foreign experts.
Shaaban said that while Egypt has to step up its environment-related technology, the situation worldwide isn’t perfect. State-of-the-art technologies in the environmental field are available everywhere, he continued, but only applied in a few places.
“Holland and Japan should figure as leading nations in developing such technologies, which surprisingly depend a great deal on the know-how of some Egyptian experts, he said.
The shortcomings are the result of the absence of initiative among concerned authorities and factory-owning businessmen, he noted.
Due to relatively high cost of such technology and the laxity of related laws, he explained, only few take the issue seriously.
“We can’t ensure a pollution-free environment without the state’s support and the proper enforcement of environmental laws, remarked Shaaban.
“As a research center, we sit down with factory owners and concerned officials to familiarize them with the outcome of our studies and the dangers of ignoring the environmental aspect of industrialization. But the issue should go beyond the theorizing of researchers.
The conference focused on three major topics with an emphasis on water-related research.
“We stressed the importance of introducing ‘nano-filtration,’ which is a chemical-free technology capable of filtering the minutest of pollutants found in all kinds of water, including those of canals and rivers, underground waters and sewerages, Shaaban explained.
“The traditional fashion of filtering and cleaning drinking water that we continue to use to date is costlier in terms of money and land used to set up plants. Also, the nano-filtration technology has proven effective in turning the sewerage water from a true health hazard into a useful product in the field of irrigation.
The expert pointed out that although one plant costs no less than LE 300 million, it has failed to improve the quality of water.
“To produce clean drinking water is easy, but to ensure that it reaches its destination in the same condition remains the biggest problem.
In addition, Shaaban noted that air pollution – in spite of being an old issue – can’t be sidelined
“The impact of the problem has dramatically increased as residential areas moved to the edges of industrial zones.
“Cement and ceramic factories are a case in point. We can’t change their locations, but changing the production technologies is the only possible way to reverse the ill-effects of these factories’ emissions.
The use of “top filters as a means for reducing emissions from cement factories is somewhat old-fashioned, but is still an effective technology. An improvement that has not been widely applied is the use of special crinkles to condense the dust, which can then be used later in the production of cement bricks. The method is currently in operation in just one factory, said Shaaban.
The government has discovered that the cost of the medical treatment of those affected by the emissions is much higher than the gains realized by the products of these industries, he said.
The government has responded to the NRC’s requests with regard to reducing the level of lead in petrol and containing the emissions of ceramic and cement factories, he added.
“The health of some groups, including traffic policemen and school children, has improved, but any gains in pollution control have been undone because between 600,000 and 800,000 new vehicles join the roads every year.
“We still have a lot of challenges ahead.