Air Pollution In Lagos

10

s Nigeria’s economic hub, Lagos is one of the world’s fastest growing megacities, but this rapid growth has had a downside with high rates of illness and premature death caused by unhealthy air. A recent World Bank study, the Cost of Air Pollution in Lagos, estimates that illness and premature deaths due to ambient air pollution caused losses of $2.1 billion in 2018, representing about 2.1% of Lagos State’s GDP. In the same year, it caused an estimated 11,200 premature deaths, the highest in West Africa. Children under five were the most affected, accounting for 60 percent of total deaths while adults suffered from heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Our study estimates the impact of ambient air pollution on health, analyzes main pollution sources, and recommends options to improve Lagos’ air quality. Indoor air pollution is another challenge that will be explored in a later study. Ambient air pollution is caused by pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, ozone, air toxics, and fine particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers (PM 2.5). These are dangerous because they can pass lung barriers and enter the blood stream, contributing to mortality and morbidity. While the WHO guideline for the annual mean PM 2.5 concentration level is 10 μg/m3 , Lagos has recorded levels of 68 μg/m3, in the same range as other pollute Emissions from industries are the second source of PM 2.5. Our earlier research showed that industrial and commercial zones like Apapa, Idumota, Ikeja and Odogunyan, where cement, chemicals, furniture, refinery, steel industries, and markets are concentrated, have high levels of pollution. In the Odogunyan site known for its iron smelting factories, a PM 2.5 concentration of 1 770 μg/m3 was recorded in a period of 24 h – 70 times higher than the WHO guideline. We still need more data to identify major industry and power emission sources. Nigeria’s vibrant economy, large population and unreliable power sector have led to a heavy dependence on backup generators. In Lagos alone, about half of the city’s total energy demand is met by generators, the third source of PM 2.5. Large diesel generators are used in institutional, commercial, and housing sites while small generators have proliferated across households and small businesses. The poor combustion of the gasoline and lubricating oil used for generators pollutes the air and causes huge health damage as they are used in closer proximity to people. Two other factors contribute to pollution: inadequate waste infrastructure and pollution from the two ports. Without a proper waste management system, people resort to open burning of waste and illegal dumping, causing the emissions of toxic pollutants. Nigerian ports statistics state that in 2017, 33 million metric tons of cargo passed through the two major ports of Apapa and Tin Can. Every day, about 5,000 highly polluting diesel trucks seek access to the ports or park around for months, picking up or waiting for their loads, causing heavy congestion and pollution.

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