Nairobi continues to top the list of Africa’s best air quality than most cities in the continent exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution.
International site, IQ Air, showed Nairobi hit a score of 25 on the air quality index (AQI) in its latest ranking.
Air pollution is the second-largest cause of death in Africa, partly because of the continent’s rapid urbanisation and industrialisation.
Approximately 1.1 million deaths per year have been linked to air pollution across Africa, according to a Global Burden of Disease study.
However, the daily quality of air in Nairobi fluctuates between good and unhealthy levels.
The dominant pollutant type in Nairobi is PM2.5, a common indicator of harmful air pollution.
The tiny pollutant is dangerous; when inhaled, it can travel deep into lung tissue and enter the bloodstream, and has been linked to health problems including asthma and heart disease.
Much of the pollution in Nairobi comes from sources related to the combustion of certain materials, and the mass movement of people and goods.
The PM 2.5 was 1.2 times the World Health Organization (WHO) annual air quality guideline value.
It comes from sources like the combustion of fossil fuels, dust storms and wildfires, and has been linked to a number of health problems including asthma, heart disease and other respiratory illnesses.
World Air Quality and Pollution
To address this air pollution crisis, experts warn that governments must take urgent action to strengthen regulation, including monitoring capacity to track PM2.5 and other pollutants.
In its 2022 Report, Africa saw improvement in the number of countries compared with the 2021.
The ranking relies on air monitors in different locations across the world.
Only 19 out of 54 African countries had sufficient data available from their monitoring stations.
Generally, the 2022 World Air Quality Report, showed Angola with the cleanest air in Africa, followed by Kenya and DR Congo respectively.
Lack of monitoring stations in developing countries in Africa, South America and the Middle East, results in a dearth of air quality data in such regions, according to the IQA.
The report by IQAir, seeks to help governments craft regulations to protect public health.
Moreover, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) urges governments to adopt legislation that makes monitoring a legal requirement while investing in existing infrastructure to improve data reliability.
In the interim, integrating the use of low-cost air quality monitors will improve air management in developing nations.