Air pollution: Africa suffocates

Air pollution – Africa suffocates! It is a “silent killer”. In the continent’s major metropolises, breathing the air is twice as deadly as in the rest of the world. In the continent, pollution kills more than AIDS !

Air pollution: Africa suffocates

Air pollution: the most affected African cities

Air quality is poor in the city of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, as well as in the localities of Bobo-Dioulasso and Koudougou.

This is the conclusion of a study on “Spatio-temporal monitoring of air pollution due to suspended particles by low-cost sensors in Burkina”, conducted by researchers from the Laboratory of Environmental Physics and Chemistry of Joseph Ki-Zerbo University and Columbia University in the United States.

The study was conducted for one year (November 2021 – November 2022) at 19 sites in the cities of Ouagadougou (13), Koudougou (03) and Bobo-Dioulasso (03). Pollution sensors have been installed at these sites.

In Ouagadougou, these sensors have shown that the average daily concentrations of pollutants vary between 17 and 36 micrograms per cubic meter, the study says.

At all sites, concentrations exceed the WHO standard of 15 micrograms per cubic meter, and the two daily pollution peaks are between 7-8 am and 7-8 pm.

Silent killer

It is a “silent killer”. In the continent’s major metropolises, breathing the air is twice as deadly as in the rest of the world. According to a study by the British NGO Clean Air Fund, the cause is the lack of alternatives to the car, the presence of mining and oil industries near cities and the open burning of waste.

“The status quo cannot be the only solution,” the NGO warns. In Cairo, Accra, Lagos and Johannesburg in particular, the authorities would be well advised to take up the problem. The study recommends investing in public transport, monitoring air quality and introducing cleaner stoves in households. Especially since the rural exodus is accelerating: the African population, mostly rural, has only recently experienced the exodus to urban centers. According to experts, more than 65% of the continent’s population is expected to live in urban areas by 2060. By the end of the century, Africa will be home to 5 of the world’s 10 largest megacities.

Pollution kills more than AIDS

According to previous research, published in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health, in 2019, this pollution caused the premature death of more than 1 million people in Africa. By comparison, 650,000 people lost their lives to HIV/AIDS-related diseases worldwide in the same year, according to UN figures. By following the NGO’s recommendations, by 2040 125,000 lives could be saved and CO2 emissions reduced by 20%. It is also an economic opportunity, according to the study, which anticipates a reduction in work stoppages where high levels of pollution affect employees’ health. Some $20 billion could be saved in these four cities.

Another study (by the Health Effects Institute) found that the human cost of air pollution in Africa is among the highest in the world. In sub-Saharan Africa, the death rate from air pollution is 155 deaths per 100,000 people, nearly double the global average of 85.6 deaths per 100,000 people, HEI said in a report. If nothing changes, however, the study warns that “the financial costs of air pollution will increase sixfold by 2040.”

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