Air pollution; the Lagosians' friendly killer.

I have a dream, that one day Lagos will be a healthy city, with ''healthier people''
What is the benefit of a megacity with poor roads, irregular traffic control and lots of air pollutants? I believe only Lagosians can answer that question. I have always said I cannot live in Lagos; this is not because I cannot adapt to the way of life of Lagosians, but because I am of the opinion that Lagos is a killer city.

In my definition, a killer city is a place that has too many ways to kill thousands of people at the same time. Have you ever seen an accident scene in Lagos? Have you ever counted the number of people at a bus stop at night? Maybe the number of people waiting for a bus at CMS, or Oshodi, or Ikeja? You will eventually get tired of counting because they would be thousands of people at the bus-stop.

Actually, Lagos is fun no doubt. However, this fun is laced with a big killer: Air pollution. Air pollution is actually a big problem, so much that it is difficult to escape, no matter where you live or how rich you are. Lagos state has an estimation of 21million people, and if you are a visitor in Lagos, I just want you to know that you just are +21million inhabitants. Interesting fact is that this statistic was taken in the year 2019, and a few pregnant women must have given birth to their babies, some people must have relocated to Lagos because they got a new job, so right now, there are definitely a few more hundreds of people in Lagos.

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Lagos is known as a megacity, some parts of the state have good roads; however more parts of the state have poor roads, underutilized waterways. It is also an overpopulated state, with poor traffic control; a report on vanguard says that about 2 million vehicles can be on the same spot for hours. Due to the poor traffic control, people sit in short buses called danfo, and long commercial buses for hours. The effect of this long hours sitting position is no doubt unhealthy and can be detrimental to people’s health. Meanwhile, these cars exhaust are pollutants to the air we breathe in, which can cause health hazards.

Nigeria is still a developing country, thus there are several issues on health that is unaddressed, and air pollution is a part of it. Nigeria has the highest number of cases of health hazards from air pollution in Africa, and it is the 4th highest country in the world with air pollution that shows that you and I are not safe with the air we breathe in. For a state like Lagos state, that is congested, with half of its occupants spending between 6 to 8hours on the road, trapped inhaling polluted air, it is obvious that air pollution should be addressed. This is why respiratory disorders are serious threats to the occupants of Lagos.

The World Health Organization estimates the number of deaths caused by outdoor air pollution in Africa as 176,000, where about 10% is from Lagos state. Think of the congested roads, cars, Danfoss, BRTs, Opay bikes stuck at a particular place, with different car exhuming their exhaust, it is quite a frustrating scene. Car exhausts are dangerous, they contain some poisonous chemicals like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, benzene, formaldehyde which can be very detrimental to the health of people around.

The damaging effects of air pollution:

  • Air pollution is unarguably a visual nuisance, and it impacts the bloodstream.
  • The toxic substances mentioned above can affect the body’s organs; the bloodstream, digestive tract, and also affects other organs like the heart. 
  • In addition, air pollution can stress your lungs and heart, cause impaired breathing pattern, damage the cells in the respiratory system, decrease the lung function which in turn causes distress breathing, makes the supply of oxygen harder, aggravate people’s chance of getting diagnosed of respiratory illness.
  •  Unfortunately, if any of these happens, and it is not well treated, or properly managed, death is likely to set in.

Who are those at risk of having the aforementioned damaging effects of air pollution?

  • People with diseases like heart disease and lungs problem. 
  • Other people like pregnant women, children
  • Athletes who exercise vigorously outdoors.
  • Elderly people.
  • Unhealthy people.
  • Immune-compromised individuals.
  • If you are none of the above categories, you can suffer respiratory distress if you are careless with your health.

 Air pollution solution.
If you live and work on the Island, or you have your personal car, you may not have a problem with car exhaust. However, if you have to jump buses, use a motorcycle, get into a Tricycle (Keke napep), my dear you need to know what is good for you. Here are few ways you can prevent any of these killer diseases:
  • Raise awareness about respiratory diseases, and how to prevent these respiratory diseases.
  • Ensure and maintain good air exchange within your surrounding
  • Adopt healthy practices, such as the use of handkerchief and face mask.
  • Promote good health and ensure that you treat flu-like symptoms immediately you notice them.
  • Shift to electric friendly gadgets at home, or better still avoid using generators behind your window.
  • Drink a lot of water (about 3-4 liters per day) to stay hydrated.

Dear Lagosian, I hope you are happy with your Lagos, I wish you a healthy and fun-filled life even as you enjoy jumping those yellow buses and listen to those conductors screaming our their throat. Till we meet again in Lagos, please stay healthy. 

Post credit to:
Olayemi Mary Adeola, she is a public health advocate and works as a content writer. She enjoys sleeping and thinks it should be a hobby, reading, and writing. When she is not writing, she is busy coaching a teenager on how to become a better adult.

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