ESSAY TOPIC: Air pollution: A significant cause of morbidity and mortality especially in many large cities of the developing world.
Ambient and indoor air pollutants have been a major source of concern all over the world, especially in major cities of developing countries due to increasing need for transportation, industrial development and fuels for household uses by an increasing population of dwellers. These pollutants, which majorly include particulate matter and gaseous pollutants, cause significant morbid conditions ranging in severity from eye irritation to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases with mortality cases at extremes. The growing threat of these pollutants in the face of rapid urbanization therefore calls for proactive measures to be adopted. Strategies should involve better traffic management and control of vehicle and industrial emissions, use of cleaner and safer fuels for household needs, employment of pollution forecasting technologies and strict legislations to ensure adherence to guidelines on air safety.
On Earth, air quality is continually compromised due to rapid growth of the population in cities, development of industry and intensification of road traffic (Krzyzanowsk and Schwela, 1999). In recent decades, air pollution has become one of the most important problems of megacities because of large concentrations of people and activities, which exert stress on the natural environment (Molina and Molina, 2004). According to a World Health Organization (1997a) report, ambient concentrations of air pollutants tend to be highest in developing countries and likely to decline only when higher levels of development are reached. This may be explained using the main hypothesis in environmental economics which posits that as the per capita income of a nation increases, the environmental quality deteriorates up to a point before improving as income continues to rise.
The poor air quality in many large cities of developing countries, according to the report, is consequent upon the critical need for cooking, household heating or transportation as also seen in figure 1 with the developing countries having a significantly higher level of indoor and outdoor exposure which in turn results to a high mortality rate. These needs as mentioned earlier have to be met despite limited availability of clean fuels and technologies, and lack of effective environmental protection programs. In an earlier report by WHO/UNEP (1992), an assessment of levels and trends of air pollutants in 20 world largest cities revealed that serious cases of ambient air pollution were predominant in most of the cities from developing countries, many of which had concentrations of one or more of the evaluated pollutant exceeding the WHO Air Quality Guideline Levels by more than a factor of 2.
In this paper, I will begin by looking at air pollution in developing countries like Nigeria, China and India. Following that, I will look more closely at the particular pollutants and I will finish with solutions and recommendations for improving the situation.
AIR POLLUTION IN NIGERIA, CHINA AND INDIAN LARGE CITIES
Many cities in developing countries face the challenge of lowering air pollutants to improve the health of their people.
In a West African developing country, Nigeria, Lagos is the commercial capital with 75% of the nation’s industries. It ranks as the second most populated and fastest growing city in Africa, and one of the fastest growing megacities in the world (Olowoporoku, 2011). S I Efe (2008) shows the distribution of ambient particulate matter in 17 Nigerian Cities, this is represented in figure 2. In February 2010, the Federal Ministry of the Environment in Nigeria reported the results of air quality studies in six major cities – Lagos, Maiduguri, Port Harcourt, Aba, Kano and Abuja, implicating all of them as having concentrations of particulate matter pollutants higher...
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