Health Impact Of Outdoor Air Pollution In Nigeria; Current Knowledge And Future Research Needs

Project and Seminar Material for Environmental Science

Health Impact Of Outdoor Air Pollution In Nigeria; Current Knowledge And Future Research Needs


The significance of air pollution as one of the contemporary issues and accelerating factors that propel climate change in both developed and developing countries cannot be overemphasized. The problem of air pollution has seemingly become intractable with the incessant failure of both global and local environmental policies purportedly emplaced to address its devastating trend, particularly in growing megacities of the world. The devastating effects of the phenomenon are more pronounced in megacities of developing countries than in developed ones. Lagos, as an industrialized, commercialized and an emerging megacity in Nigeria, has been subjected to several predictions of the negative impacts of changing climatic conditions partly caused by ubiquitous air pollution. Efforts at stemming the tide of the increasing challenges of air pollution worldwide has significantly been thwarted by inadequate funding, hence the need to review the literature on the environmental implications of growing air pollution, its contributions to climate change and its negative impacts on the lives and properties of teeming inhabitants of Lagos.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

The process of urbanization is mostly associated with many environmental challenges with adverse effects on the living standard of people. Urban areas of the world are often confronted with the challenge of population due to unceasing migration of people from rural areas to urban areas to enhance their living standards through job seeking, businesses and trading. Most times the aspirations of people from rural areas are often met with obstacles such as housing, competition for existing dwellers, paucity of jobs and exposure to disasters resulting from overpopulation (Phillips and Horwood, 2007). The population increase results in skyrocketing demands for housing that culminate in the city expansion with attendant industrialization and infrastructural development that need proper environmental policy measure to avoid dangerous effects on the environment. In most developingcountries, the environmental impacts of urbanization are enormous; the most common of these being air pollution. The subject of air pollution and its effects on the environment is referred to as one of the Universal Commons that many countries and local governments are seeking to address (Puppim de Oliveira, 2011). Air pollution is one of the environmental problems confronting growing cities and is currently the challenge faced by many developed and developing countries; its effects on human lives are enormous as it causes disease and can result in chronic illness. Apart from the health risk, it contributes to our changing climatic conditions, which are potential sources of threats to local and international communities. The current global changes caused by the changing climate have been attributed to human activities (Crowley, 2000) through civilization and industrialization and it is interesting to know that the urban settlements where most industrial activities occur in the world are also direct and indirect sources of global challenges. Our atmospheric environment is very sensitive to various types of pollution resulting from three phenomena: Global warming, ozonelayer depletion and, above all, local air pollution. The latter, which is mostly anthropogenic in nature, results from industrial activities, fossil fuel generator fumes, chemical exposures and so on. The pollutant molecules such as Sulphur Oxides (SOx), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) Lead, Ozone, Benzene, Carbon Oxides (COx) Arsenic, Cd, Hg and Particulate Matters have negative effect on the human health, which can rapidly spread abroad causing health instability in the system. When the concentrations of these molecules/particles in the air exceed the international standard, the air is considered polluted. Concentration of these pollutants, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides, directly contributes to climate change which has become one of the world’s challenges today. High concentrations of carbon in the atmosphere increase the climatic temperatures, causes greenhouse warming which often result in the heat generated from the sun being trapped close to the surface of the Earth. Increased concentrations of heat in the atmosphere over the years lead to precipitation, rise in sea level and subsequent unusual rainfall that cause flooding in most vulnerable areas
Thus air pollution is generally disequilibrium condition of air caused due to the introduction of foreign elements from natural and manmade sources to the air so that it becomes injurious to biological communities. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines air pollution as limited to situations in which the outer ambient atmosphere contains materials in concentrations which are harmful to man and his environment. A substance in the air that can cause harm to humans and the environment is known as an air pollutant and air pollutants are expressed as a ppm or ug/m3 which is subjected to change to variations of temperature and pressure.

The predominance of respiratory unhealthiness such as bronchial asthma, emphysema, lung cancer and chronic bronchitis appear to have heightened in recent years. A change in the genetic predisposition can snowball into allergic symptoms. Consequently this change in gene can be influenced by change in the environmental components. The average adult may require about 14 Kilograms of air each day compared with less than 1.4 Kilogram of food and about 2 Kilograms of water. Compared with the other necessities of life, obligatory continuous consumption is a unique property of air. The insensible intimate inter-penetration of air which of course flows in and out from the lungs gives to all pollution its essential importance. One of the major components of particulate matter which is the crystalline Silica has also been classified as a known human carcinogen and is associated with systemic autoimmune disease. The relationship between Silica and pneumoconiosis has been reported in the Azandarian Area. The occurrence of a pneumothorax was associated with complaints of pleuretic chest pain, resting dyspnea, respiratory distress, paroxysmal nocturnal dyspriea, orthopnea crackleAir pollution is a problem that is directly related to the number of people living in an area and the kinds of activities they engaged in. In a place where the population is low and their energy usage is also low, the impact of people in creating pollution is minimal. However where the population is high, the area urbanized and industrialized with high energy usage large quantities of pollutants are released into the environment. It is clearly obvious that the greater the concentration of people in one area, the greater the amount of pollution and the greater the sophistication of a society the more intricate and poignant its pollution. It is based on the above fact that this study examines air pollution and control measures in urban centres of Nigeria. Nigeria is located on the west coast of Africa between the Bight of Benin to the fringes of the Sahara desert (between Benin Republic and Cameroun). Air pollution may be taken as the contamination of air by discharge of harmful substances, which can cause health problems including burning eyes and nose, itchy irritated throat and breathing problems (USEPA, 1994).

Air pollution is a major part of the overall atmospheric pollution and the motor vehicle emissions usually constitute the most significant source of ultrafine particles in an urban environment (Zhu and others, 2002). Important chemical pollutants emitted by land vehicles are Carbon monoxide (CO), Sulphur dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and Total Suspended Particles (TSP) (Najeeba and Saleem, 1997). Ambient air is one of the environments that human beings have to live in throughout their lives. The quality of the environment is therefore very important to the quality of life. It seems fitting and proper to examine the problem of air pollution from the view point of public health. An average man breathes 22,000 times each day. The air is the main link to life. It far exceeds one’s consumption of food and water. Hence, there is a general interest in air pollution studies (Subramani, 2012). In recent years many African countries have experienced significant economic growth leading to increased urbanization, motorization and energy use. Air pollution generated by motor vehicular exhaust has become a major cause of public concern worldwide. The rapid and the marked increase in motor vehicular traffic and its associated gaseous pollutants in the urban areas have caused a sharp increase in the prevalence of respiratory allergies (Polosa and Salvi, 1999). The net effect of this increase in population and cars is the drastic increase in environmental pollution including air pollution (Jackson, 2005)Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa accounting for approximately one-sixth of Africa’s people. Based on the 2006 National Population Census Nigeria has a population of 140,431,790 people and the population is exploding with current estimates of over 170 million and a growth rate of more than 2% per annum.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

In modern times and societies, there is a complex relationship between the environment, broadly defined, and human health. Poor air quality has been linked to respiratory health effects, especially among sensitive groups such as young children, elderly, and those with respiratory problems. The lack of a framework for the review, assessment and management of air pollution in the city implies that residents are exposed to significant ambient air pollution and therefore subject to attendant public health risks. It is on this note that the researcher intends to investigate the impact of outdoor air pollution in Nigeria.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The main objective of the study is to ascertain the health impact of air pollution a continuing health threat to Nigeria. But for the purpose of the study; the researcher intend to achieve the following sub objectives;

  1. To ascertain the effect of air pollution on the health of the populace
  2. To ascertain the impact of air pollution on the environmental wellbeing of the society
  3. To investigate the role of environmental management agency in the control of air pollution
  4. To ascertain the relationship between air pollution and death rate in the society

1.4 Research Hypotheses

For the purpose of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated

  1. H0: Air pollution does not have any effect on the health of the populace
    H1: Air pollution has a significant effect on the health of the populace
  2. H02: Environmental management agency does not play any role in the control of air pollution
    H2: Environmental management agency plays a significant role in the control of air pollution.

1.5 Significance of the Study

It is believed that at the completion of the study; the findings and the study will be of importance to the federal ministry of environments as the findings will aid them in policy formulation and implementation on the control of air pollution. The study will also be of great importance to the national environmental management agency; who are charged with the responsibility of monitoring and ensuring the implementation of the policy formulated by the federal ministry of environment and punishing defaulters of the rules so as to keep the environment safe and reduced global warming, the study will also be of importance to researcher who wish to embark on a research in similar topic, as the study will serve as guide for further study. Finally the study will be of importance to the teachers, students, lecturer and the general public

1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The scope of the study covers air pollution a continuing health threat in the world with emphasis on Nigeria. But in the cause of the study, the researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study; some of these limitation are stated below

(a) Availability of Research Material:

The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study.

(b) Time:

The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

(c) Finance:

The finance available for the research work does not allow for wider coverage as resources are very limited as the researcher has other academic bills to cover

1.7 Definition of Terms


Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that cause adverse change. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat or light. Pollutants, the components of pollution, can be either foreign substances/energies or naturally occurring contaminants. Pollution is often classed as point source or nonpoint source pollution.

Air Pollution

Air pollution is a mixture of solid particles and gases in the air. Car emissions, chemicals from factories, dust, pollen and mold spores may be suspended as particles. Ozone, a gas, is a major part of air pollution in cities. When ozone forms air pollution, it’s also called smog. Some air pollutants are poisonous.


Health is the level of functional and metabolic efficiency of a living organism. In humans it is the ability of individuals or communities to adapt and self-manage when facing physical, mental or social changes. The World Health Organization (WHO) defined health in its broader sense in its 1948 constitution as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” This definition has been subject to controversy, in particular as lacking operational value, the ambiguity in developing cohesive health strategies, and because of the problem created by use of the word “complete


The atmosphere of Earth is the layer of gases, commonly known as air, that surrounds the planet Earth and is retained by Earth’s gravity. The atmosphere of Earth protects life on Earth by absorbing ultraviolet solar radiation, warming the surface through heat retention (greenhouse effect), and reducing temperature extremes between day and night (the diurnal temperature variation)

1.8 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

  1. Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research question, significance or the study, research methodology, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
  2. Chapter two highlight the theoretical framework on which the study its based, thus the review of related literature.
  3. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
  4. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  5. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study

Chapter Five

Summary Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to evaluate the health impact of air pollution in Nigeria.

In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges of air pollution in major cities in Nigeria

5.2 Summary

Urban dwellers in Nigeria are among the millions of people particularly in developing countries that live in urban areas with unhealthy air due to pollution from automobiles, factories, power plants etc. In Nigeria, the governments’ main concern is to provide for the basic needs of the people such as food, shelter and employment for the populace. Therefore pollution control has not been the priority programme of all levels of governments. It is based on this scenario that environmentalists foresee that controlling pollution will become more difficult and complex in the near future if the current trend continues. It is therefore vital for healthy and sustainable living that the preventive measures and sustainable solutions to ensure safe environment for the population to live.

5.3 Conclusion

Various studies have indicated the scale and spatial variability of public susceptibility to air pollution in major cities in the world. However, this knowledge is not sufficient to reduce the risks to public health posed by the problem. An effects-based and risk-management approach for Nigeria needs to be employed in order to provide a dynamic solution to public health issues associated with elevated concentrations of specified air pollutants such as PM10, VOCs and NO2 from traffic and domestic energy sources in Nigeria. This approach should therefore be based on a clear understanding of the public health risks posed by elevated levels of air pollution in order to prioritize a set of options available for minimizing the health risks especially in vulnerable communities. Air pollution has important and diverse health effects on everybody on earth. There is a compelling need to move forward on efforts to ensure clean air for all. Finding solutions to these and other air pollution problems isn’t always easy, and requires agencies, environmental organizations, industry, Governments and the public to work together to ensure clean air. The department of Health should work closely together with Government agencies, the public and others who are concerned about air quality. It will also consist of risk assessments based on identifiable economic costs and benefits to public health and quality of life and will facilitate new regulations, policies and processes that are informed by scientific evidence.

5.4 Recommendation

Haven completed the study, the following recommendations are put forward by the researcher Traffic, industry, refuse disposal, electric generators and gas flaring are the major air pollution sources in Nigeria and impact on health has been linked with the pollution episodes witnessed in the country. Therefore, prevention is said to be better than cure. Air pollution prevention is used to describe techniques and process that reduce wastes, through encouraging source reduction and sound recycling. Prevention strategies can be utilized in agriculture, energy conversion, and manufacturing aimed at eliminating or reducing the initial generation of pollutants and recycling or reuse of those pollutants that cannot be reduced or eliminated. For instance, rather than flaring of the natural gas produced in the Niger Delta region, it will be more beneficial and eco-friendly should this gas be processed into cooking or domestic gas as a recyclable measure for economic use. Other control measures include:

  1. Use of alternative energy sources such as sun, wind, water, biomass and geothermal.
  2. Carrying out emission test on all vehicles.
  3. Planting trees will help use up excess carbon dioxide in the air.
  4. Regular servicing of cars and electric generators,

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