Air pollution in several African countries have now become as much of a health threat as well-known killer diseases like HIV/Aids and malaria in the region, according to a new report.
“This is cutting life expectancy by as much as 5.4 years in the most polluted regions of the continent,” the report Air Quality Life Index, published by University of Chicago, has said
It has listed the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Congo as among the 10 most polluted countries in the world.
As central and West Africa continue to grow their energy use, particulate pollution is becoming a rising threat, according to the report.
It says Nigeria also faces high pollution burden with levels 4.6 times the WHO guidelines in 2021.
“In Lagos, home to Nigeria’s largest city with 21.1 million people, vehicle emissions due to long commutes and high sulphur-content fuel, industrial emissions, and the use of diesel generators in the face of unreliable electricity supply contribute to high levels of urban air pollution.”
Fine particulate matters, known as PM10 and PM2.5, are the pollutants linked with respiratory diseases, diabetes and even cancer as the miniscule particles can enter the lungs and bloodstream respectively.
With manufacturing industries, vehicle emissions, energy generation and burning of agricultural residues identified as the sources of air pollution, the report says government policies are also to blame.
Researchers found that a tiny proportion of governments on the continent provide their citizens with air quality data or have air quality standards.
The report has also said that the issue of air pollution has received very nominal global funding.
It says that while around $4bn (£3.2bn) of funding goes to combat HIV/Aids, malaria and tuberculosis the whole of Africa gets only $300,000 to deal with air pollution.