According to the Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN),  Nigeria has one of the worst air pollution cases; the fourth deadliest in the world. Several Nigerian cities have been listed as the most polluted in the world. Lagos, the hub of Nigeria’s economic activities, is marked by a lot of pollution. With increased urbanization and more economic activities, one can only speculate how much harm awaits if we turn a blind eye to our current situation. 

The atmosphere consists of gases in adequate concentrations that support the existence of living things. When there’s a deviation from this ideal concentration, the air is said to be polluted. Thus, air pollution is the physical, biological, or chemical alteration of the atmosphere by dust, smoke, and other harmful gases. 

Pollution can come from dust,  smoke from the combustion of various inflammable objects, volcanic eruptions, etc. Human-engineered air pollution sources include harmful power generation, vehicle emissions,  agricultural activities, waste incineration, exhaust from factories, industries, mining operations, building heating systems, and methane from indiscriminate waste disposals. 

The Nigerian environment has massive use of petroleum, kerosene stoves, firewood, coal, and indiscriminate burning. The use of automobiles with old engines and harmful emissions is increasing across the country. With so much waste generated and substandard disposal methods in many areas of the country. 

Air pollution significantly contributes to global warming/climate change and other hazards to our environment. It causes acid rain, eutrophication, ozone layer depletion, deteriorates human health (allergies, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, as well as lung damage), and causes discomfort.  Exposure to smoke from cooking fires causes 3.8 million premature deaths every year. According to the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), 22,500 children died from air pollution in the state in 2021.

Sustainable Solutions to Air Pollution

Structures have been put in place to curb air pollution, but air pollution is still on the increase. The ultimate solution, however, lies with you and me, deliberating adopting sustainable and beneficial practices. These include:

  1. Eco-friendly transportation: More Nigerians are purchasing personal vehicles, increasing the aggregate emissions. How about we take fewer trips to reduce emissions and boost air quality? You can opt for shared mobility, such as carpooling and public transport, to reduce energy use and harmful emissions. As often as possible, walk or ride a bike. Switching to hydrogen and electricity vehicles is a welcome development we hope will drastically change the pollution narrative in Nigeria.
  2. Cautious Household Practices: Every household must strive to curb the indiscriminate burning of garbage, dry leaves, or other materials in their yard and lighting bonfires in the open. Yard wastes can be mulched or composted. Electrical devices must be turned off when not in use; energy-saving fluorescent bulbs and torches are most preferred as less consumption of electricity can save energy
  3. Use Renewable Energy: Alternative efficient energies like solar, wind, and geothermal last longer, consume less electricity, lead to lower electricity bills, and are highly environmentally friendly and sustainable. 
  4. Green building: Right from the planning stage of every structure, a carbon audit that helps to identify and reduce the carbon footprint, in addition to ensuring resource efficiency, should be put in place.
  5. Afforestation: Trees help to purify the environment as they help to filter pollutants, absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere. Trees should be planted, and if you have to cut down a tree, ensure that you plant five more trees.
  6. Use of filters in chimneys: Air pollution levels can be monitored to detect and control pollution peaks. Harmful should be minimized through the use of chimney filters in homes and factories. 
  7. Avoid usage of crackers: The use of crackers during festivals and weddings is one of the most significant contributors to air pollution, leading to a layer of smog that is highly harmful to health. So, the practice of no crackers should be implemented.
  8. Go for Organic Products: Using paints or perfumes made with harmful chemicals should be minimized. Products with low chemical content and organic properties are a preferred alternative.
  9. Regulation: Agencies like the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) have been saddled with monitoring and enforcing compliance in businesses, industries, and other environments. Considering the country’s high pollution ratings, the government needs to intensify its efforts.
  10. Advocacy: you can lend your voice by advocating for clean air in local businesses, offices, schools, institutions, etc. People must be informed and reminded about the need for and best practices to prevent air pollution in the environment. 

Air pollution is one of the reflectors of man’s follies and a threat that must be overcome for a better future. Air pollution is costly in every aspect. It is expensive to implement every possible sustainable measure to curb this hazard. Everyone needs to get involved and play their part in improving the environment.  

Author: Gift Ifokwe

Photo: ICIR Nigeria

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