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Africa’s megacities lack air pollution monitoring

Smoke rises from an illegal oil refinery along the Diebu creek in Nigeria, May 15, 2012. Some cities in Africa suffer from severe air pollution problems but data to quantify the problem are hard to come by. (AKINTUNDE AKINLEYE/Reuters /Landov)

Beijing, Delhi, London and Los Angeles are among the cities that dominate headlines about worrisome air pollution levels. Mathew Evans writes in The Conversation that smog poses an equally dangerous threat to Africa’s cities — yet commands little of the world’s attention.

“The air quality in many African cities is almost completely unmonitored,” Evans laments. As a result, understanding about pollution in teeming megacities such as Lagos and Kinshasa suffers from incomplete data.

In developed nations, most of the urban air pollution is traced to cars or factories. In Africa, rubbish fires, diesel generators and indoor stoves also are contributing factors. For Africa’s city dwellers, the threat already is severe. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated half million Africans die each year from indoor and outdoor air pollution, the article notes.

Evans, professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of York, has co-authored an academic study on this issue, available here, for the journal Nature Climate Change.

The Conversation

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