Silent suffocation in Africa: Air pollution is a growing menace

Hitting the poorest children hardest

Smog covers Makoko, a fishing community mostly made up of structures on stilts above Lagos Lagoon, in Nigeria.


Air pollution is a major killer of children, and accurately measuring air quality is the key to addressing this issue. However, there is a severe dearth of reliable ground-level air quality measurements in areas that are home to many of the world’s children – particularly the poorest.

This report, the first in a series, looks at Africa, where an estimated 6 per cent of children live near reliable, ground-level monitoring stations that provide real-time data on the quality of air they are breathing. By contrast, about 72 per cent of children live near reliable monitoring stations across Europe and North America. Increasing the base of reliable, local ground-level measurements across the African continent would greatly aid effective responses to this poorly understood threat to children. It is likely that we are only scratching the surface in terms of understanding the full impact of air pollution on child health in Africa.

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