Air pollution is one of the biggest threats for the environment and affects everyone: humans, animals, crops, cities, forests, aquatic ecosystems. Here today we are going to look in deep the causes, present air pollution rate in Nigeria and the most importantly, what are the possible solutions to tackle this treat to nature caused by the inhabitants of the earth?
Let’s begins with Water. Yes, it is no longer enough simply to kill the bacteria contained in a water in order to make it drinkable, since the pollution produced by man has altered the very chemical composition of the natural water supply.
In 1392 King Charles VI of France published an edict that outlawed the emission of foul smelling gases in Paris.
Air pollution is caused by the presence in the atmosphere of toxic substances, mainly produced by human activities, even though sometimes it can result from natural phenomena such as volcanic eruptions, dust storms and wildfires, also depleting the air quality.
Nigeria produces more than 3 million tons of waste annually, and uncontrolled waste burning is one of the practices that contribute to deteriorating air quality. Almost every Nigerian is exposed to air pollution levels exceeding WHO guidelines and inflicting significant air pollution damage costs.
Air pollution was responsible for about a million premature deaths in Africa in 2016.
Nigeria has a mortality for air pollution of 307.4 for every 100,000 people, the second worst in all of Africa. More people die from air pollution in Nigeria than in South Africa, Kenya, and Angola, combined.
Air pollution is a critical risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) worldwide, causing about 24% of all adult deaths from heart disease, 29% from lung cancer, 25% from stroke, and 43% from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Major sources of air pollution in Nigeria include tailpipe exhaust from cars and trucks, smoke from the open burning of residential trash, diesel generators, road dust, industry, and soot from the use of biomass-fuelled cook stoves indoors.
The air pollution levels in cities such as Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, and in particular Onitsha, a port city on the bank of the Niger River in southern Nigeria, is still at health-damaging level.
Onitsha recorded the world’s worst levels of PM10 (particles of less than 10 micrometers) air pollutants in 2016 with an annual mean concentration of 594 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3 ). This was 30 times above the World Health Organization (WHO) annual guideline of 20 μg/m3 for PM10.
Causes of air pollution in Nigeria today
- Combustion of fossil fuels, like coal and oil for electricity and road transport, producing air pollutants like nitrogen and sulfur dioxide.
- Emissions from industries and factories, releasing large amount of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbon, chemicals and organic compounds into the air.
- Agricultural activities, due to the use of pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers that emit harmful chemicals
- Waste production, mostly because of methane generation in landfills.
Nigerian government can control Air pollution through the following ways:
- Renewable fuel and clean energy production
The most basic solution for air pollution is to move away from fossil fuels, replacing them with alternative energies like solar, wind and geothermal.
- Energy conservation and efficiency
Producing clean energy is crucial. But equally important is to reduce our consumption of energy by adopting responsible habits and using more efficient devices.
- Eco-friendly transportation
Shifting to electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles, and promoting shared mobility (i.e carpooling, and public transports) could reduce air pollution.
- Green building
From planning to demolition, green building aims to create environmentally responsible and resource-efficient structures to reduce their carbon footprint.
In addition, monitoring air pollution levels has become very important to detect pollution peaks, better control air pollution and eventually improve air quality.