Toxic gas putting millions at risk in Middle East, BBC finds

Toxic gas putting millions at risk in Middle East, BBC finds

Toxic pollutants released during gas flaring are endangering millions more people than previously feared, a BBC investigation suggests.

Flaring – the burning of waste gas during oil drilling – is taking place across the Gulf, including by COP28 hosts the United Arab Emirates.

New research suggests pollution is spreading hundreds of miles, worsening air quality across the entire region.

It comes as the UAE hosts the UN’s COP28 climate summit on Thursday.

The UAE banned routine flaring 20 years ago, but satellite images show it is continuing, despite the potential health consequences for its inhabitants and those in neighbouring countries.

Analysis for BBC Arabic shows gasses are now spreading hundreds of kilometres across the region.

Pollution from wells in Iraq, Iran and Kuwait were also analysed as part of the study. All of the countries involved either declined to comment or did not respond.

Oil companies, including BP and Shell, who are responsible or partly responsible for sites where flaring took place said they were working to reduce the practice.

On Monday, BBC News revealed leaked documents showed how the UAE had planned to use its role as the host of UN climate talks as an opportunity to strike oil and gas deals.

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