Air Pollution in Nigeria
Nigeria has the largest number of deaths due to air pollution in Africa, while the country ranks fourth for air pollution across the globe. Statistics indicate that in 2016, 150 fatalities occurred per 100,000 people as a result of this environmental issue. The State of the Global Air Report that the Health Effects Institute (HEI) published determined that Nigeria’s air quality is amidst the most lethal worldwide. Atmospheric threats such as generator fumes, automobile emissions and crop burning cause air pollution.

In 2016, The HEI indicated that industrialized countries like Russia and Germany have reported lower death rates than Nigeria with 62 and 22 per 100,000 people. Meanwhile, developing countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and India have reported much higher rates with 406, 207 and 195 deaths per 100,000 people.

Causes of Air Pollution in Nigeria

Air pollution emits through generator fumes which produce the deadly gas carbon monoxide. Automobiles with older engines are also likely to emit unhealthy fumes into the atmosphere. In households, kerosene stoves produce flames that contribute to the poor air ventilation. The nation creates over 3 million tons of waste yearly and most Nigerians burn their waste in their neighborhoods rather than discarding it, contributing more pollution to the atmosphere. Another aspect that contributes to the air pollution crisis in Nigeria is the use of firewood and coal to cook.

Additionally, indoor air pollution in Nigeria is also a big issue, as the amount of fine particulate matter levels in many households surpass air quality guidelines by 20 times. In 2012, according to the WHO, Lagos, Nigeria experienced nearly 7 million deaths caused by indoor and outdoor air contamination.

Air contamination across the African continent kills over 700,000 people annually; more people die from air pollution than unsanitary hygiene practices and undernourishment. Casualties as a result of the air pollution crisis in Nigeria has increased by nearly 40 percent in the last 30 years. Nigeria has some of the highest rates of unhealthy air quality across the African continent. Overall, Nigerian cities contain the most unhealthy air quality with 10 urban areas being classified on a list of 30 cities in Africa with the most unhealthy air quality.

The Effects of Air Pollution in Nigeria

While developed countries have effective solutions in place to handle air pollution, underdeveloped countries are struggling to handle this environmental issue. Some countries have begun taking appropriate measures to handle it, though. As a result, the number of people exposed to air pollution has decreased from 3.5 billion in 1990 to 2.4 billion in 2016.

The report also indicated that 95 percent of the globe’s citizens are intaking polluted air. In 2016, extended subjection to air pollution contributed to roughly 6 million deaths, all resulting from diseases such as strokes, lung disease, lung cancer, bronchitis, asthma and heart attacks. Air pollution is one of the top leading causes of fatalities, particularly in underdeveloped countries, even after smoking, increased blood pressure and unhealthy diets. Exposure to air pollution also increases the risk of developing cancer.

Solutions to the Air Pollution Crisis

In order to effectively handle the air pollution crisis in Nigeria, it is important for the country to provide regular inspections of automobiles to ensure that older cars are not releasing harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. It is also integral that Nigeria removes cars from the road that are toxic to the environment.

The implementation of efficient electric energy will help decrease the need for generators, which produces unhealthy air pollution in households and work environments. However, Nigeria does have access to sustainable energy resources that are capable of providing power to its citizens. These methods are safer for the environment and the usage of them decreases the use of gasoline-powered generators, thus decreasing pollution.

Nigerians can reduce air pollution in the household by substituting fuelwood for biogas, which is a form of biofuel that is instinctively manufactured from the decay of natural waste. Biogas will provide sustainable options for preparing food and heating the household while eliminating air pollution both inside the household and the outside environment.

In terms of trash disposal, recycling methods will be helpful to make certain that people are not burning waste. Additionally, daily waste removal from households will also help to properly dispose of trash, which reduces the fragmentation of waste and prevents odors that contribute to air pollution.

Additionally, factories that are within metropolitan areas follow guidelines regarding sustainable practices in order to decrease air pollution in Nigeria. The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) monitors operations to ensure that these work environments are abiding by the pollution proclamations.

In conclusion, the execution of environmentally friendly practices in Nigeria will help decrease the air pollution crisis in Nigeria that is present in households, businesses and the outside environment. In order for the elimination of air pollution to be effective, the country must pursue the regulations for all Nigerians.

Additionally, it is necessary to inform communities regarding the sources and consequences of air pollution in order for them to effectively take action in decreasing the issue. Furthermore, those that become more knowledgeable of the issue are then able to educate others and persuade the Nigerian government to continue to enforce legislation against air pollution.

Diana Dopheide
Photo: Wikipedia


“Fuel poverty” is generally defined as spending more than 10% of income on energy bills. The numbers don’t make it seem like a crisis, but for half the world’s population, it is. Fuel poverty affects the health of millions of people.

An answer to this problem, according to a study in the United Kingdom, lies in access to renewable energy and more efficient methods of cooking.

Some countries, like South Africa, heavily rely on coal and other fossil fuels while other countries like India rely on wood. Inefficient burning of these resources causes heavy indoor air pollution of carbon monoxide (CO) and respiratory suspended particulate matter. In the 21 most affected countries, this has caused a 5% death and disease rate.

U.N. Assistant Secretary General for Strategic Planning and Policy Coordination Robert Orr said, “Energy is central to everything we are trying to achieve on the development side of the equation. There are 1.3 billion people who don’t have access to [modern] energy. If you hook them up to the most polluting, damaging forms of energy you are doing significant damage to the planet.”

Indeed, through inefficiently burning solid forms of fuel, lasting damage is done to the planet and the overall health of millions worldwide. The United Nations crafted, within their Millennium Development Goals, an “agenda for action.” The plan for improved energy efficiency involves cleaner and more efficient methods of cooking.

In India, through support from nongovernmental local associations, BP Energy India developed the “Oorja Stove.” It’s designed with a built-in fan that provides oxygen and eliminates smoke. It’s also fueled by agricultural waste, so it’s cheaper and uses much less kerosene.

“Independent research has indicated that the stove reduces CO by 71% and lowers suspended particulate matter by 34%. Other reporting suggests that biomass use would drop from 1.5 to 2 tons to 0.4 to 0.6 per family per year.”

And to add to its benefits, the sale of these stoves has actually encouraged and convinced women to take on entrepreneurial roles.

The Netherland’s equivalent to the Oorja stove is the Philip’s Smokeless Cookstove, which can burn any biomass, and gasifies it before burning so it doesn’t produce any smoke. The saucer beneath the cookstove contains the same kind of fan found in the Oorja stove.

Sustainability initiatives such as these are a stepping stone toward eradicating energy and fuel poverty.

Anna Brailow

Sources: Optimist World, Scientific American
Sources: Daily Record

4 million lives are lost each year to household air pollution. This means that annually, a population roughly the size of Los Angeles dies as a consequence of traditional cooking methods still practiced by poverty stricken families of the global south. In an attempt to raise awareness of the need for the adequate power grids necessary to ameliorate the toxic effects of indoor air pollution, policymakers are calling for increased funding towards universal energy access.

Researchers at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria recently published a study showing that an annual investment of between 65 to 86 billion dollars a year for the next 17 years would allow for universal energy access. Why is universal energy access the solution to indoor air pollution? In order to reduce fatalities by up to 1.8 million by 2030, clean combusting cooking fuels and electric ovens must be made available –via greater energy investment – to poverty stricken areas.

Regarding universal energy access, IIASA researcher Dr. Shonali Pachauri remarked that, “The scale of investment required is small from a global perspective, though it will require additional financing for nations that are least likely to have access to sources of finances.”

Ingenious forecasting models generated from the study show that an investment of 750 to 1000 billion dollars over the next 20 years – or 3 to 4% of current energy investments – would facilitate universal energy access. Furthermore, through these investments, a policy of fuel subsidies, new stoves, and improved access to electricity would all serve to dramatically reduce the casualties of indoor air pollution.

By enacting a policy of universal energy access now, future generations of poverty stricken families can enjoy the safety of cooking without the carcinogenic side effects of indoor air pollution. Dr. Pachauri optimistically notes that achieving this goal will result in signicant health benefits.

Brian Turner
Source: Science Daily
Photo: Building A Smarter Planet