China is the country that most graces conversations when talk of serious air pollution problems come up but that may just be because the country is doing quite a lot to tackle it. A lot of Nigerian cities also suffer from the dangers of air pollution but little is being done to tackle the problem.
In November last year, one of the Nigerian cities in question – Port Harcourt started up a conversation in online spaces due to a mysterious black soot that began falling from the sky and afflicting residents.
The fear and anger of residents led them to start up the hashtag #StopTheSoot where a number of claims were made to the tune of nothing being done to help them and alleviate the problem. At a point, people were seen wearing protective face masks and articles floated around online on the possible risks the residents were being exposed to.
The environment has been known to be sacrificed on the altar of profit and development around the world and loads of people have to breathe in the polluted air no matter the country under consideration. This is, especially, true for those who live in crowded places.
The impact of air pollution, however, differs from state to state and a number of Nigerian cities were thumbed for being in a sorry state as regards air pollution according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In fact, the World Health Organization has put out data concluding that Onitsha, Anambra state is the city with the worst air pollution in the world. According to the report, Onitsha has staggering levels of PM10 particulate matter in its air.
PM10 are particles less than or equal to 10 micrometers in diameter, which are so small they can get into the lungs, potentially causing serious health problems. Onitsha’s mean annual concentration was recorded at 594 micrograms per cubic meter by WHO, which is 30 times more than the recommended limit.
Three other Nigerian cities skated in on the WHO report for high PM10 levels. Kaduna took fifth place followed by Aba in sixth place and Umuahia, in 16th position.
Considering air pollution is the biggest environmental health risk, this should be very concerning to Nigerians. Last year, the World Bank reported that 94% of the population in Nigeria is exposed to air pollution levels that exceed WHO guidelines and air pollution damage costs about 1% post of gross national income.
These Nigerian cities implicated in WHO’s report also suffer from solid waste that litter the streets and block drainages and canals. The Nigerian government and citizenry have to be conscious of this very real problem which has significant negative health effects and do all in their power to reduce it.