Time to clean up the air we breathe

Published on 30 March 2012 in The Standard

The findings of a recent study on air pollution levels in Nairobi are shocking. The study shows contamination scale of air inhaled by city residents is five times higher than the recommended international levels.

Experts attribute the dangerously high toxic levels to extreme concentration of diesel-consuming vehicles and high-rise buildings that hold the polluted air while blocking out cleaner air.  But with excessive air pollution usually associated with myriad health conditions, this is an environmental hazard we cannot afford to harbour anymore.

The Government has a chance to reverse the situation before it gets out of hand. And it would not take rocket scientists to do this.  First, scientific studies have shown that trees can significantly decrease overall air pollution levels by removing gaseous air pollutants and particulate matter.

The Government should also enforce deliberate measures to trim over reliance on motorized transport, effectively trimming the number of vehicles in the city.  This can effectively be achieved by investing in railway transport. Relocating public matatu termini to the city’s periphery could also be a part solution to this problem.

It would equally be prudent that the proactive measures to curb air pollution be considered during architectural planning. This should involve constructing skyscrapers a healthy distance away from each other and relocating highly populated facilities such as shopping malls away from the city centre.


One thought on “Time to clean up the air we breathe

  1. The above article correctly captures the air pollution situation in Nairobi and other growing cities in sub-Sahara Africa. It should serve as the foundation on which follow-up studies should be built.
    Air pollution is problem in Nairobi and there is a need to understand the situation through scientific studies within and without the city. As stated in the article, one of the remedy to curbing air pollution is to de-congest traffic, people and infrastructure within Nairobi. Secondly, there is a need to create a database on pollution levels and pollution related illness in hospitals.
    Similarly, it is important to note that there are other activities around Nairobi such as impeding coal mining in Kitui which will influence air quality due to dominant southeast winds.
    All in all, continued studies of air pollution situation in Nairobi and publication of the results (as in the above article) will pass the pollution message to the public as well as the policy makers in the national and local government.

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