In New Report, Egypt, Nigeria, S’Africa  Emerge Africa’s Most Polluted Nations

In New Report, Egypt, Nigeria, S’Africa  Emerge Africa’s Most Polluted Nations

Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

Egypt, Nigeria, and South Africa have emerged Africa’s most polluted countries in terms of air pollution disease burden, amid  health consequences and exacerbated impacts on climate change, a new report by Greenpeace Africa and Greenpeace Middle East & North Africa has revealed.

Titled: “Major Air Polluters in Africa Unmasked”, the report investigated the biggest human sources of air pollution across Africa, focusing on major industrial and economic sectors, including the fossil fuel industry.

It stated that every year in Africa, as many as 1.1 million premature deaths have been linked to air pollution.

The report added that Egypt, Nigeria, and South Africa consistently exhibit large disease burdens, with the highest mortality linked to fossil fuel air pollution in these nations.

It highlighted the sparse monitoring of air quality in Africa, revealing that only 19 African countries have legislation incorporating ambient air quality standards, according to the First Global Assessment of Air Pollution Legislation by the United Nations Environmental Programme.

 Nigeria’s energy sector and its oil and gas industry are responsible for large amounts of flaring, it said, is the result of development practices in the 1960s and 1970s when there was limited demand for fossil gas and environmental standards were not stringent.

 With no market for the gas produced as a by-product of oil wells, flares were installed as a disposal Nigeria features method. Decades later, it added that Nigeria is in the top 10 continues to flare large volumes . . of fossil gas, quoting previous reports.

 “In many parts of Africa a lack of air quality monitoring has allowed pollution to remain hidden. However, there is abundant evidence that African nations face a serious public health crisis from air pollution.

“The root causes of this crisis are the air pollutant emitters. Data from satellites and even fuel sales in each country allow scientists to investigate emission sources,” Senior Scientist at the Greenpeace Research Laboratories, Dr Aidan Farrow said.

The report found that Africa is home to some of the worst nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide hotspots in the world, all of which are primarily linked to thermal power plants.

 The report also found that Eskom, a public utility company that has the government of South Africa as its sole shareholder, operates many of the most polluting plants in South Africa.

Key findings compiled by the report include that: Exposure to air pollution is the second leading risk factor for death in Africa and that achieving World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines could result in significant gains in life expectancy.

Health impact studies, it said, suggest that life expectancy could be improved by up to three years in some African nations if air quality met WHO guidelines.

“According to WHO, exposure to air pollution, including nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide, can cause both short- and long-term health problems. These include heart and lung diseases, pregnancy problems, kidney issues and cancer,” the report added.

The report presents recommendations to address the critical issue of air pollution in Africa, emphasising the need for investment in clean technologies, especially in the energy sector.

“International institutions share a significant responsibility in sustainably developing the African continent. Many of the causes of air pollution, such as the combustion of oil, coal, and gas, are also sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

“ Policies aimed at reducing air pollution, therefore, offer a win-win strategy for both climate and health, ” the Greenpeace report stated.

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