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Nigeria, 10th most polluted country in Africa

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By Mercy Kelani

WHO classified the quality of air in Lagos, Nigeria as unhealthy.

A report according to historical data 2017-2022, Lagos State, Nigeria has been ranked 133 in the world’s most polluted cities. The 2022 World Air Quality Report on most polluted city ranking, which is said to be on the basis on annual average PM2.5 concentration, recorded that Lagos was being affected by poor quality air with a US AQI figure of 160. This quality of air, according to recommended figures of the World Health Organization (WHO), is classified as unhealthy. As of 2018, the concentration of its PM2.5 pollutant was 73.2 µg/m³.

As a result, report advised that a good quality mask is worn when going outside. It was also recommended that all doors and windows be closed to avoid inhalation of the polluted air. IQAir asserted that air pollution in the state is majorly caused by vehicle emissions, and industrial and domestic energy use. Many vehicles in Lagos are over 15 years old without the latest emission technologies. Industrial emissions also contribute largely to air pollution with industrial zones like Apapa, Ikeja, Idumota and Odoguyan where cements, chemicals, oil refineries and the likes are situated having high levels of pollution.

Air pollution causes more deaths than malnutrition.

Nigeria’s most populous state has about half of its population’s energy needs supplied by generators contributing to air pollution in the state. The use of charcoal, wood and kerosene for cooking due to limited infrastructure and inaccessibility to clean energy causes huge health problems to residents of rural communities. All these has resulted in Nigeria being the 10th most polluted country in Africa, having 44.8 percent air pollution rate, closely followed by Uganda and Ethiopia.

An intense study in 2018 detailed that over 11,000 premature deaths are caused by poor air quality with 60 percent of the estimation constituting of children under the age of five. Although all kinds of air pollution are harmful to the health, microscopic PM2.5 particles is more harmful due to its ability to penetrate the lungs with its small size. In Lagos, air pollution causes more deaths than malnutrition and unsanitary hygiene practices. As a matter of fact, in the last few decades, casualties of air pollution in Nigeria have increased by 40 percent.

Cars with toxic emissions should be removed from the road.

Across the African continent, Nigeria currently has some of the highest levels of unhealthy air quality. Ten urban cities in the country have also been listed among thirty cities in Africa with the highest level of unhealthy quality of air. To combat air pollution in the state, it was recommended that consistent inspections of automobiles is done to stop older cars from releasing harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. There should also be removal of cars which emissions are toxic to the environment from the road.

Additionally, the need for generators which emit unhealthy air into the environment would decrease with the introduction of efficient electric energy. Reduction of air pollution is possible through this means because of the country’s access to sustainable energy resources that can supply power to the citizens. Likewise, air pollution can be decreased in the households of rural communities through substitution of firewood and charcoal for biogas. Biogas has the capability of cooking food and heating the house with the absence of air pollution.

Daily waste removal should be practiced by households.

Furthermore, newer and better technologies like solar power would reduce emissions from industries to a significant level. The garbage situation of Nigeria’s commercial capital also needs attention. The amount of rubbish that are dumped, buried or burnt need to be monitored and cautioned by selected teams who would also be responsible for carrying out necessary punishments on perpetrators. The practice of recycling plastics should be embraced. Households should also learn the habit of daily waste removal for proper disposal of garbage for prevention of odors that contribute to air pollution.

Related Link

Clean air fund: Website

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