According to the 2013 data of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in Africa, it may amaze you that air pollution causes more premature deaths than poor sanitation, child malnutrition or drinking of unsafe water. But yet a substantial majority of us are purposefully or unknowingly exposing ourselves to this environmental insult.
The WHO in fact reports that 9 in 10 persons are breathing polluted air and that over 7 million deaths annually could be attributed to air pollution. The most affected regions are the low and middle income countries especially in African, South-east Asian and Eastern Mediterranean regions
If you’ve visited the hospital for consultation with your doctor, you may be wondering whether certain questions like ‘where do you live?’ ‘Do you smoke or snuff or use tobacco in any form?’ or ‘What do you use to cook your food?’ are worth asking at all. How do you feel when you are close to a burning car tyre? If the obvious is your answer, I wish to inform you that you do exactly the same to yourself when exposed to polluted air for a protracted time span, so discard the notion that there may not be an immediate respiratory discomfort.
Of great concern is the recent soot-laden polluted air in Port Harcourt city of Nigeria which requires the intervention of the necessary environmental and energy-related agencies, in collaboration with the government to find a lasting solution to it. Residents virtually breathe in heavy amounts of soot – a product of incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons.
SOURCES OF AIR POLLUTION
1.Indiscriminate burning of waste farm produce, bushes and fossil fuel for mechanised farming.
2 . Industrial gas expulsions and gas flaring.
3. Burning of tyres, plastics and other industrial products.
4. Incomplete combustion of vehicular fuels and hydrocarbons
5. Dusts, pollen, wood shavings and asbestos particles
6. Household domestic releases
HEALTH EFFECTS OF AIR POLLUTION
1. Eye irritation and general discomfort
2. Respiratory distress at first and then Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases years later.
3. Carbon monoxide poisoning which is very fatal.
4. Headache, Fatigue and Lack of Consciousness.
5. Risks of Myocardial infarction and Stroke.
6. Great risk of coming down with Cancer.
7. Liver and Spleen damage.
HOW TO PREVENT AIR POLLUTION
1. Investing in renewable energy sources for power generation e.g Solar energy, Windmills.
2. Improved domestic and industrial waste managements.
3. Recycling of industrial and municipal plastics, scrap metals and use of biodegradable containers.
4. Use of catalytic converters to reduce harmful products of incomplete combustion in vehicles
5. Building greener and compact cities, and discouraging indiscriminate bush burning.
6. Developing safe and affordable public transport systems e.g electric trains and cable cars.
7. Constructing pedestrian and cycle-friendly road networks.
8. Reducing agricultural waste incineration and forest fires.