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Three Days To Guber Poll, Report Indicts Gov Sanwo-Olu As Lagos Ranks 133rd Among World’s Most Polluted Cities

Lagos State has been ranked 133 in world’s most polluted cities survey, giving Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu more things to worry about ahead of this Saturday’s governorship election.

The governor will be seeking re-election on Saturday in a governorship election that would be held across 28 states in the country.

Lagos is regarded as Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre and is the 5th largest economy in Africa.

As at 2021, Lagos gross domestic product, GDP, was put at N41.17 trillion with a 2022 budget of N1.7 trillion.

However, critics say all that may have translated into nothing with the latest report by IQAir.

The report which would be frowned upon by the state government in Lagos said the state’s annual average PM2.5 concentration (μg/m³) is “unhealthy.”

Working on what it called historical data from 2017 to 2022, IQAir said Lagos is “experiencing some rather poor-quality air with a US AQI figure of 160 which classified it as ‘unhealthy’ based on the World Health Organisation’s recommended figures from 2021.

According to the report, Lagos, with an estimated population of 21 million as of 2018, has the concentration of its PM2.5 pollutant as 73.2 µg/m³.

The report explained that with a level such as this, “it is recommended that a good quality mask is worn when going outside. Doors and windows should be kept closed so as to prevent the ingress of polluted air in the home. All types of outdoor exercise should be abandoned until air quality improves.”

While ranking Nigeria as the 10th most polluted country in Africa, with an air pollution rate of 44.8 per cent, it said an estimated 11,200 premature deaths were recorded in 2018 as a direct result of poor air quality with 60 percent of the fatality children under the age of five.

The report further noted that, “Any type of air pollution is detrimental to health, but the worst type of pollutant is the microscopic PM2.5 particles which can easily penetrate the lungs, due to their small size. This study found the levels in Lagos were over 7 times the target figure suggested by the World Health Organisation,” according to IQAir.

Grimly, the report gave a negative prognosis of the situation pointing out that, “Casualties as a result of the air pollution crisis in Nigeria has increased by nearly 40 per cent over the last few decades,” without receding.

It said, “Nigeria has some of the highest levels of unhealthy air quality across the African continent. Overall, Nigerian cities contain the most unhealthy air quality with 10 urban areas being classified on a list of 30 cities in Africa with the most unhealthy air quality.”

The report put the causative factors as those from ambient air pollution, which it said “is caused by pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2), ozone (O3) and fine particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres or PM2.5.

“These are dangerous because they can easily bypass the body’s natural defence system and enter the bloodstream, contributing to mortality and morbidity.

“While the WHO guideline for the annual mean PM 2.5 concentration level is 10 µg/m³, Lagos has recorded levels of 68 µg/m³ in the same range as other polluted megacities such as Beijing, Cairo and Mumbai.”

To arrest the alarming development, the report said, “The introduction of efficient electric energy will decrease the need for generators, which produce unhealthy air in households and work environments.

“Nigeria has access to sustainable energy resources that are capable of providing power to its citizens. These methods are safer for the environment and the usage of them decreases the use of gasoline-powered generators, thus decreasing pollution,” it stated.

“In rural areas, Nigerians can reduce air pollution in the household by substituting fuelwood, coal and charcoal for biogas, which is a form of biofuel that is made from the decay of natural waste.

“Biogas will provide sustainable options for preparing food and heating the household at the same time eliminating air pollution both inside the household and the outside environment,” the report said.

Specifically, it said, “Lagos is making some progress in introducing laws but they still need to be executed. In 2017, standards for sulphur content in fuel were lowered to reduce emissions: from 3,000 parts per million (ppm) to 50 ppm for diesel; and from 1,000 ppm to 150 ppm for gasoline.

“Emissions from industries could be lowered with the use of newer, better technologies such as solar power. The garbage situation needs to be addressed due to the huge amount of rubbish that is buried, burned or just dumped.

“Teams need to monitor this situation and act accordingly when the perpetrators are caught.

“Much of the plastic could be recycled instead of being burnt as it is now.

“Furthermore, daily waste removal from households would also help to properly dispose of garbage, which reduces the fragmentation of waste and prevents odours forming that contribute to air pollution,” according to the report.

With the governorship election a few days away, the Sanwo-Olu may have a new worry concerning his work as the state’s chief executive officer in the last four years.