By Nkem Ndem If you are a fan of Nollywood…
We are in the harmattan season when visibility and air quality tend to drop. This often accompanied by bouts of catarrh and cough for many people in Nigeria. What many people may not know is the degree to which the air they breathe is polluted or hazardous.
We did some research and discovered that air quality is measure globally through a standard called Air Quality Index (AQI).
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, AQI can be defined: …”as a yardstick that runs from 0 to 500. The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern. For example, an AQI value of 50 represents good air quality with little potential to affect public health, while an AQI value over 300 represents hazardous air quality.
“An AQI value of 100 generally corresponds to the national air quality standard for the pollutant, which is the level EPA has set to protect public health. AQI values below 100 are generally thought of as satisfactory. When AQI values are above 100, air quality is considered to be unhealthy-at first for certain sensitive groups of people, then for everyone as AQI values get higher.”
This chart explains it more:
Each category corresponds to a different level of health concern. The six levels of health concern and what they mean are:
- “Good” AQI is 0 to 50. Air quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.
- “Moderate” AQI is 51 to 100. Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people. For example, people who are unusually sensitive to ozone may experience respiratory symptoms.
- “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” AQI is 101 to 150. Although general public is not likely to be affected at this AQI range, people with lung disease, older adults and children are at a greater risk from exposure to ozone, whereas persons with heart and lung disease, older adults and children are at greater risk from the presence of particles in the air.
- “Unhealthy” AQI is 151 to 200. Everyone may begin to experience some adverse health effects, and members of the sensitive groups may experience more serious effects.
- “Very Unhealthy” AQI is 201 to 300. This would trigger a health alert signifying that everyone may experience more serious health effects.
- “Hazardous” AQI greater than 300. This would trigger a health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.
Now, having understood the different categories of AQI, we decided to check the AQI for Lagos today via AirVisual which provides daily AQI measurements and this is what we found.
For today, Lagos falls in the purple region of AQI with a score of 210 making the air residents of the city breathing today to be very unhealthy.
The government needs to do more to provide a cleaner and healthier envirionment. Yes, the harmattan has contributed to low air quality today but it can be better with better regulation and less pollution.