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Solving Africa’s Serious Air Pollution Problem

Solving Africa’s Serious Air Pollution Problem

This summer, the situation in African countries is very serious.exist MoroccoFor example, temperatures topped 120 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius) for the first time on record. It once again demonstrates the injustice of climate change: regions that emit the least greenhouse gases are the most affected by global warming.

Of the 1.4 billion people living on the African continent, nearly half—43%–No electricity. As a result, many people must rely on burning wood, charcoal, and in some cases even garbage for heating and cooking. Many people drive older, older cars imported from Europe and Japan. Often, these vehicles are not equipped to comply with emission standards.

“The engine may not be very up to date. The catalytic converter may have been taken out. Also, the fuel quality is not up to U.S. or European standards.” Daniel Westerveltan atmospheric scientist Colombia Climate Schoolof Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. For these reasons, air quality in much of Africa is a serious health concern.according to World Health OrganizationThe combined effects of ambient and household air pollution cause 6.7 million premature deaths each year.

Man stands on podium and in front of audience, next to a group of professionals

Daniel Westervelt speaks at a training seminar on air quality management in East Africa at Kenyatta University in Nairobi. (Courtesy of Daniel Westervelt)

Westervelt is also affiliated with NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and U.S. State Department advisors, are working to take comprehensive measures to reduce the threat. In August, he helped send a State Department-funded training mission to East Africa to teach a week-long course on air quality science and management to about 100 participants from Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. The training took place at Kenyatta University in Nairobi and focused on creating a collaborative system to measure air quality and engage in future research. It also discusses climate change and the range of impacts that African countries are likely to experience in the near future and in the long term.

In recent years, Westervelt and colleagues Set up air quality sensors in six African countries. “The air quality in major East African cities like Nairobi is very poor, and they don’t have a lot of data. You need evidence,” Westervelt said. “They also don’t have the regulatory policies and tools to improve the problem and reduce pollution. So, [we provided] training on what methods have worked in the United States and other places”

Westervelt noted that emissions controls on vehicles and industry have produced significantly cleaner, safer air in the United States. With data, training and political will, African countries can also take action, he said.

Westervelt and his colleagues provided hands-on training on how to assemble and use inexpensive air sensors and how to access and analyze data. Among the instruments provided is a research-grade sensor that measures deadly fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), which can lodge in a person’s lungs. The instrument remains in Kenya, and Westervelt and a team are working with local actors to establish a field station to continue collecting data. The next step for community leaders is to draft an air quality improvement plan.

“The City of Nairobi will be the lead author. I will supervise, help in any way I can and provide data,” Westervelt said.

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