Nigeria’s air is the second most fatal for newly born children. This is according to the Health Effect Institute’s State of Global Air report for 2020.
According to the report released on Wednesday, 67,900 infants died within their first month of birth in Nigeria in 2019, due to air pollution.
This figure is only worse in India, where more than 116,000 infants died within their first month of birth in 2019.
According to HI, newborn babies in Africa and Asia, are most susceptible to dying from poor air quality.
The US-based institute reckons that 476,000 babies died within their first month worldwide.
The report, which measures household pollution and outdoor pollution, said the former is responsible for two-third – 64 per cent of infant deaths.
The report said, “Air pollution accounts for 20% of newborn deaths worldwide, most related to complications of low birth weight and preterm birth.”
“It is thought that air pollution may affect a pregnant woman, her developing foetus, or both through pathways similar to those of tobacco smoking,” it added.
Household air pollution chiefly results from the burning of various fuels for heating or cooking using open fires or cookstoves with limited ventilation.
Kerosene, coal, charcoal, wood, animal dung, are some of the materials burnt as fuels in the affected countries, the report noted.
Highlights of the report, however, failed to take into account the fume emitted from the burning of high sulfur particle fuels by generators in Nigerian homes as well.
The air pollution menace is both indoor and outdoor.
Outside the home, the report reckons that “Ozone exposure accounts for 1 out of every nine deaths globally.”
Explaining the build-up of pollution outdoor, the report said, “It – Ozone exposure is formed by a complex chemical interaction between nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds in the presence of sunlight.
“Nitrogen oxides are emitted from the burning of fossil fuels in motor vehicles, power plants, industrial boilers, and home heating systems.
“Volatile organic compounds are also emitted by motor vehicles, as well as by oil and gas extraction etc.”
The report noted that the lockdowns implemented due to COVID-19 improved air quality in several counties, but those gains are fast dissipating.
The Nigerian government has not seriously addressed the problem of air pollution.
Nigeria is one of the few countries in the world that uses dirty petrol – PMS with a ratio of 3,000 sulfur particles per litre. In comparison, neighbouring Ghana has already stepped up its petro quality to 50 particles per litre.
In Nigeria, it is also cheaper to import semi-used cars with poor emission-quality than to import new vehicle models which are required to have higher levels of fuel efficiency.