Top 8 Causes of Air Pollution in Nigeria

The various causes of air pollution in Nigeria is one that is expanded into various aspects of our lives. From our feeding or preparation of food to our waste disposal. But, the most alarming cause has been the illegal refining of crude oil.

Pollution is one of the most dangerous environmental issues affecting the world today. Air pollution leads to health risks and damages the ecosystem.

Air pollution is a situation whereby harmful substances are introduced into the Earth’s atmosphere causing diseases, allergies, and deaths to all life forms.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), air pollution has caused the death of about 7 million people every year and as of March 2019, that figure has risen to 8.8 million deaths every year.

The quality of air in Nigeria is bad. When you look at the refuse burning, the industrial. There are more than 60 million generators in the market and home when you also look at the carbon dioxide emission and its consequence on the environment.

When you look at the major cities in Nigeria like Onitsha, Kano, Port-Harcourt and Lagos. They are the worst air pollution in Africa and the world in 2016. research has shown that more than 114,000 people died from air pollution in Nigeria in 2017 and that’s the top in Africa.

Environmental air pollution cost the global economy about $5 trillion in welfare costs.

Pollution in Nigeria is getting worse. According to a 2019 State of Global Air Report. The West African nations have the highest air pollution-related deaths on the continent. In addition, the burning of wood and coal in Nigeria vast rural areas is increasingly intensifying the suffering of many.

There a roughly a million Nigerians depending on firewood for cooking their foods. The impacts continue to be felt not only health-wise but also in the environment at large.

People need to be brought to the reality of what air pollution does to them and the environment. Though some of them might have issues with using a clean source of heat for their cooking and other household activities.

Nigeria is said to be the 10th most polluted country in the world in 2017 and had nearly 150,000 people die from air pollution in the country the highest across Africa.

Human activity plays a key role in air pollution. Refuse heaps are a common sight in various parts of the country. This waste dumpsite renders the air around the area unbreathable affecting commuters and business owners in the area.

Lagos, the economic city of Nigeria has a high rate of air pollution at 68.75. air pollution is majorly caused by the incineration of solid waste at dumpsites located across Lagos.

Poor solid waste management at these landfills has gone on for more than a decade. This dumpsite has an ugly reputation of consistently contaminating the air even stretching for several kilometres.

This releases CO2, a greenhouse gas responsible for climate change and also methane another greenhouse gas responsible for climate change. This goes into the atmosphere.

These landfills generate even more CO2 than the vehicles that we drive and this is very bad for the environment this contaminates the flora, fauna and the soil located around the area due to the mixture of different gases that affect the soil.

There should be eco-friendly ways of managing this waste and one of them would be to generate less waste recycle and upcycle the waste. Residents would have to consider wearing a nose mask to the polluted air that can enter their system.

Nigeria being an oil-producing Nation have a huge problem with air pollution and this comes from soot. Soot is a deep black powdery or flaky substance consisting largely of amorphous carbon, produced by the incomplete burning of organic matter.

An example would be Rivers state, a state probably referred to as a land of milk and honey is the treasure base of Nigeria. Nature in its benevolence has endowed her with lots of minerals and other natural resources which are supposed to be blessings to the citizens and inhabitants alike.

But, that glorious blessing has become a curse and poison to society because of the illicit activities of a few who enrich to the detriment of all.

Port-Harcourt, the capital city of Rivers State has lost its garden city acclimation to “soot city”. In recent years, the residence menace is called soot. 80% of the soot in Port-Harcourt and its environs are from illegal refineries.

The medical implications of the soot experienced in Port-Harcourt can be largely divided into two. They are acute complications and chronic complications.

Acute complications are those complications that are immediate, the chronic complications are those that can occur between months to years.

In recent times, Port-Harcourt has been making headlines as a result of this black soot. This soot has chemical characteristics of which most of which are hydrocarbons and heavy metals.

When these chemicals get into the aquatic system, they pollute the water system. This leads to bio-accumulation and bio-magnification of these hydrocarbon-based pollutants including heavy metals in the fish.

Some of them may die if the pollution occurs in lethal quantities, some of them are being harvested by fishermen by as we consume these polluted fishes, we increase the level of pollutants in our bodies.

Some Facts to take Note of as regards air pollution in Nigeria:

  • According to the latest Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report,

“People living around the Niger Delta Region are likely to “lose nearly 6 years of life expectancy” if the air pollution situation around the area is not controlled.”

  • According to a report given by the University of Chicago’s AQLI,

“Air pollution is second only to HIV/AIDS in terms of impact on life expectancy in Nigeria.”

  • According to HEI & IHME,

“More than 114,000 people died from air pollution in Nigeria in 2017, the top in Africa.”

  • According to World Health Organisation (WHO),

“Onitsha, a port city in southern Nigeria, had the world’s worst air (PM10 pollutants) in 2016.”

  • According to  IQAir Visual & Greenpeace,

“Kano had Africa’s worse air pollution in 2018.”

  • According to World Health Organisation (WHO),

“Nigeria’s air quality monitoring agency does not issue air quality alerts even when air quality levels are expected to adversely impact health.”

  • According to World Health Organisation (WHO),

“Nigeria has a mortality rate for air pollution of 307.4 for every 100,000 people.”

  • According to World Health Organisation (WHO) in September,

“Nigeria has annual mean concentrations of 46.3 μg/m3 of PM2.5 pollutants, 9 times (September 2021 WHO update) above the WHO guidelines for outdoor air quality.”

Top 8 Causes of Air Pollution in Nigeria

Air pollution is one of the problems faced by the world today. It does not discriminate between developed and developing countries as it affects every country but at different frequencies and higher frequencies in a developing country like Nigeria.

Below are 8 causes of air pollution in Nigeria:

  • Transportation
  • Improper Waste Management
  • Agriculture
  • Domestic Pollution
  • Industrial Pollution
  • Terrorism
  • The Use of Cigarettes
  • Abattoir

1. Transportation

Transportation is one of the causes of air pollution in Nigeria.

According to the Guardian newspaper, June 5th 2018.

“Over 11.7 million runs on Nigerian roads every year and all these vehicles use either petrol, diesel or gas. The amount of carbon dioxide released by these vehicles into the air that we breathe in every day is off the charts.”

Reports have shown that only these emissions have caused about 400,000 premature deaths and these emissions are more detrimental to people living close to road-busy areas and people that ply these routes.

This calls for diversification to safer alternatives like electric vehicles and solar-powered vehicles instead of the use of petrol and diesel and to make sure our roads are in good condition to reduce the amount of time and the fuel consumption time.

2. Improper Waste Management

Improper waste management is one of the causes of air pollution in Nigeria.

Have you ever visited any dumpsite where most of Nigeria’s waste go or where they burn this waste? This site emits dangerous and smelly gases like carbon monoxide (CO), methane (CH4) and Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) into the air.

Nigeria is located in the part of the world where almost all the waste are burned in the open air. This problem is of huge concern because, in the country, the waste of different households or businesses are not being sorted but collected together.

This is very dangerous because the waste contains rubbish and garbage including the waste that is dangerous to humans are collected and burnt in the open air releasing harmful and toxic gases.

We use this article to reach out to every person including the government to improve the waste management system in the country so we can begin to separate/sort our dirty/waste very well before appropriate disposal.

This would be helpful to select and reuse the materials we might have deemed as waste and burn the other ones in a way that is less harmful to man and the environment.

3. Agriculture

Agriculture is one of the causes of air pollution in Nigeria.

People residing in areas we a poultry farm is located or where they rear cattle, pigs or goats would be familiar with this. These faeces from these animals are another serious air pollution produced in Nigeria.

The gases these animals release in the faeces or urine are very dangerous to us humans and even to the ozone layer. These gases include methane and ammonia.

Methane contributes to ground-level ozone pollution. Methane causes serious sicknesses like running nose, sneezing, asthma and other illnesses even death. Methane ultimately causes global warming which leads to climate change.

24 % of the greenhouse gases produced on the planet is from agriculture because we have destroyed our trees. Time has come that we plant more trees and balance for this air pollution as trees are a sink for some of the greenhouse gases.

In addition to that, we also need to reduce our wastage of food. And we should feed animals with food that can be able to digest well. We should know how to dispose of the faeces of our animals and how to bury them quickly. Health is Wealth.

4. Domestic Pollution

Domestic pollution is one of the causes of air pollution in Nigeria.

It is no news that we emit pollution from our homes. Pollution can come from petrol or diesel engines we have at home like generators, pollution can also come from firewood, stoves and other instruments we use at home or to cook our food.

In Nigeria, there is not steadily light in many places forcing people to go for alternative energy like petrol or diesel generator polluting the air. The soot from these generators and other domestic air pollution kills about 4 million people every year.

Time has come that we the Nigerians should adopt only the clean ways of cooking like the use of stoves that don’t produce smoke or will not burn much fuel but can produce good heat for the cooking of our foods.

We must start looking at energy from the sun, wind and other energies that can’t just finish (renewable energy) instead of petrol fuel that kills every time and at the same time, destroys our ozone layer.

It will help us very well if we remember to switch off our lights after use or when not in use.

5. Industrial Air Pollution

Industrial pollution is one of the causes of air pollution in Nigeria.

People that stay or work in specific areas like Lagos or the Niger Delta states are very much conversant with this. But for those who are very familiar with the location. These are the major locations where we can see air pollution come from industries.

Niger Delta is the largest wetland in Africa and the third-largest in the world. This place has vast low lands and is a swampy terrain. This area is blessed with beautiful streams, creeks, rivers, mangrove forests and with plenty of oil that feeds the nation.

But, because of the oil industries like oil exploration industries, refineries, petrochemical industries, liquefied natural gas and other companies that don’t produce oil like chemical fertiliser companies, aluminium industries, paper, cement, flour, wood, battery and clothe factories.

These companies produce plenty of dangerous gases and they release them into the atmosphere every minute of the day. This is the most serious and rampant cause of air pollution in Nigeria.

To tackle this problem, the government must redefine what is important to them.

Is it to continue collecting money for gas flaring and allow the environmental degradation, deaths and dangerous illnesses caused by this pollution to increase or to stop the gas flaring that her citizens grow well and old before death and to save the environment?

It will be good to leave a safe and sustainable environment for the next generation. It is a collective action.

6. Terrorism

Terrorism is one of the causes of air pollution in Nigeria.

Terrorism has recently been a word associated with Nigeria. The burning of vehicles, tires, buildings and bomb blasts have in recent times added to other causes of air pollution in Nigeria.

7. The Use of Cigarettes

The use of cigarettes is one of the causes of air pollution in Nigeria. One of the air pollutants in Nigeria is cigarettes. Smoking causes a lot of harm to man and his environment as a result of a process called Wood Curing.

Before tobacco is produced, the leaves are harvested and put in a barn and they pour tonnes and tones of wood. Cutting those wood contribute to the climate change problem.

And also, when people smoke, the smoke is injected into the atmosphere, a passerby who is a non-smoker is at the same risk of the same disease as a smoker.

8. Abattoir

Abattoir is one of the causes of air pollution in Nigeria. An abattoir or slaughterhouse is as the name implies, a place where animals are butchered.

There are abattoirs located in various parts of the country and the air in these areas are filled with foul stench as the place is littered with cattle manure. The operators of these abattoirs ignorantly create emissions through burning.

Some even use tires to burn the meat that would be consumed by humans. This act is very dangerous to human health as there are health threats and toxic materials in these tires that are transferred to the meat that people buy to eat.



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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.

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