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June Free Report: [Air pollution, a major stressor in Nigeria’s industrial cities]

by Obadare Adenekan | 01-09-2023 04:02 recommendations 0

Air pollution, a major stressor in Nigeria’s industrial cities

Nigeria is a country with abundant natural resources, a large and diverse population, and a vibrant economy. However, it also faces many challenges, such as poverty, corruption, insecurity, and environmental degradation. One of the most pressing environmental problems in Nigeria is air pollution, which affects the health and well-being of millions of people, especially in the industrial cities.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution is responsible for an estimated 114,000 premature deaths per year in Nigeria, the highest number in Africa. The main sources of air pollution in Nigeria are the burning of fossil fuels for transportation, power generation, and industry; the open burning of waste and biomass; the dust from unpaved roads and construction sites; and the emissions from household cooking and heating with solid fuels.

The industrial cities of Nigeria, such as Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt, and Onitsha, are among the most polluted in the world. These cities have experienced rapid urbanization and industrialization in recent decades, without adequate planning and regulation to ensure environmental sustainability. As a result, they suffer from high levels of smog, soot, ozone, and toxic chemicals in the air, which reduce visibility, damage crops and buildings, and harm wildlife and ecosystems.

Air pollution also has negative impacts on human health in Nigeria. Air pollution can cause respiratory infections, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and premature death. Air pollution can also affect the brain development of children, impair cognitive functions of adults, increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, and worsen mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

The air pollution crisis in Nigeria requires urgent action from all stakeholders, including governments, businesses, civil society and individuals. Some of the possible solutions include:

- Implementing bans and restrictions on single-use plastic products, such as bags, bottles, straws and cutlery, that are often used once and then discarded. These products account for a large proportion of plastic waste in Nigeria and can be easily replaced by reusable or biodegradable alternatives.
- Improving waste management systems and infrastructure in Nigerian cities, especially in urban areas where most of the plastic waste is generated. This includes increasing the collection, sorting, recycling and disposal of plastic waste, as well as providing incentives and awareness campaigns to encourage waste reduction and segregation at source.
- Promoting circular economy models that aim to minimize the use of virgin plastic materials and maximize the reuse and recycling of existing plastic products. This can reduce the environmental footprint of plastics production and consumption, as well as create new economic opportunities and jobs in the recycling sector.
- Supporting innovation and research on alternative materials and technologies that can reduce the reliance on plastics or mitigate their harmful effects. For example, some Nigerian entrepreneurs have developed bioplastics from natural sources such as cassava starch, algae and banana peels. Others have invented devices that can collect or degrade plastic waste in waterways or oceans.

Air pollution is not an inevitable consequence of development. It is a solvable problem that requires collective action and responsibility from all sectors of society. By taking bold and decisive steps to address this issue, Nigeria can protect its environment and people from the scourge of air pollution and pave the way for a more sustainable future.

Obadare Adenekan

  • Nigeria Former E-gen Ambassador Obadare Adenekan
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