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February 26, 2020
14 Min read time
Ghana has the second dirtiest air in Africa, according to the IQAir AirVisual’s 2019 World Air Quality Report.
Air pollution in Ghana
The report is based on available data.
Air pollution is a major risk factor for premature death in Ghana.
More than 28,000 people die from air pollution in Ghana every year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Roughly around 7 million people die prematurely from air pollution worldwide every year, the WHO estimates show. Mainly from diseases such as stroke, lung cancer, heart disease, and respiratory infections, including pneumonia.
Particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution kills more people worldwide than wars, malaria, HIV/AIDS, and smoking4, according to a new study from the European Society of Cardiology. The research was published in the journal Cardiovascular Research in March 2020.
Other recent studies have linked air pollution to increased risk for miscarriage5, up to 3.4 million preterm births6, mental illness7, brain cells damage8, cognitive impairment in children9, and a ‘huge’ reduction in intelligence10.
See other latest air pollution research findings at the bottom of this page.
What Are The Causes of Air Pollution in Ghana?
Ambient air pollution in Ghana is characterized by natural and anthropogenic sources.
Climate variability, rapid urbanization, and trends in population growth in urban areas are having a tremendous impact on air quality in Ghana.
Major sources of outdoor air pollution in Ghana include:
- Toxic exhaust fumes from road traffic — emissions from old and rickety trotros (local minibus taxis), taxis, and trucks.
- Open burning of residential trash due to poor municipal waste management.
- Resuspended dust. Ghanaian roads are mostly unpaved and dusty.
Indoor air pollution kills just as many people as outdoor air pollution. Biomass-fueled cookstoves are the main culprits in many developing countries, including Ghana.
According to the State of Global Air Report 201911, more than 70% of people in Ghana use solid fuels such as charcoal and wood to cook food in open fires and inefficient cookstoves.
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How Does IQAir Collects Data?
IQAir AirVisual uses data collected from ground-based monitoring stations that measure levels of PM2.5, ultrafine particles of 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, which are known to pose serious risks to human health.
The data are collected from government monitoring stations as well as validated monitors operated by private individuals and organizations.
The report did not include measurements for gaseous air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and ground-level ozone.
What Does IQAir AirVisual’s 2019 World Air Quality Report Say About Air Pollution in Ghana?
According to the IQAir AirVisual’s 2019 World Air Quality Report, Ghana averaged PM2.5 concentration of 30.3 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) during the period of the study. This exceeds the WHO recommended annual guideline of 10 µg/m3.
PM2.5 annual concentration in Accra (Ghana’s capital city) in 2016 was 5 times — 55 μg/m3 — above the safe limits recommended by the WHO.
Ghana’s annual mean concentrations of PM2.5 in 2016 was 31.1 µg/m3, more than 3 times above the safe limits recommended by the WHO.
See the WHO most recent global air pollution database here.
The World Bank widget above — with some missing data values — shows Ghana’s PM2.5 mean annual exposure between 1990 and 2017. The annual mean concentrations of 35 µg/m3 (2017) above is 3 times above the safe limits recommended by the WHO.
Ghana’s dirty air is the 21st worst in the world, according to the IQAir 2019 report. Worse than Iran and Saudi Arabia, both renowned for airborne particulate matter from dust storms12. Severe dust storms frequently blanket certain parts of Iran and Saudi Arabia, making air quality worse.
The Iranian city of Zabol near the border with Afghanistan was rated the most polluted city (PM2.5) in the world in 2016 by the WHO.
Which Countries Had The Most And Least Polluted Air in The World?
Bangladesh (83.3 μg/m3) had the dirtiest air in the world, followed by Pakistan (65.8 μg/m3), Mongolia (62.0 μg/m3) and Afghanistan (58.8 μg/m3).
Finland, Iceland, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Bahamas recorded the lowest PM2.5 pollution in the world.
Which Regional Capital Cities Had The Dirtiest Air According To The Report?
Next to Kinshasa, the latest report ranked Accra the second regional capital city with the worst air pollution in Africa.
Accra was ranked the 20th regional capital city with the worst air pollution worldwide.
Delhi, India’s capital city, and Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, were respectively rated as having the worst air pollution among all regional capital cities in the world.
Cities With The Worst Air Pollution in The World
Six of the world’s top 10 cities with the worst air pollution were in India.
Below are IQAir AirVisual’s 2019 World Air Quality Report’s 13 cities with the worst air pollution in the world:
- Ghaziabad, India
- Hotan, China
- Gujuranwala, Pakistan
- Faisalbad, Pakistan
- Delhi, India
- Noida, India
- Gurugram, India
- Raiwind, Pakistan
- Greater Noida, India
- Bandwari, India
- Lucknow, India
- Lahore, Pakistan
- Bulandshahr, India
Gurugram had the dirtiest air worldwide in 2018. You can download last year’s report here -> IQAir Airvisual’s 2018 World Air Quality Report.
Nigeria’s northern city of Kano13 had the dirtiest air in Africa in the 2018 report.
Air Pollution And Air Quality Monitoring Data in Ghana and Africa
Air quality monitoring data were lacking in many developing regions, particularly in Africa and South America.
Many countries in Africa do not measure the air they breathe.
In Africa, data was only available for Algeria, Angola, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda.
Data on outdoor PM2.5 was only available for 8 of 47 countries in the WHO African Region for the latest Global Ambient Air Quality Database (2018).
There were only 4 installed IQAir monitors in Ghana, all in the Greater Accra Region. The monitors were installed by private individuals and organizations.
“The participation of many groups and citizens who operate their own air quality monitors and have made this data publicly available, has increased data coverage significantly. If it were not for these valuable contributions, there would be no publicly available data in Angola, the Bahamas, Cambodia, DR Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Latvia, Nigeria, Syria, and Ukraine, ” the report acknowledged.
The participation of many groups and citizens who operate their own air quality monitors and have made this data publicly available, has increased data coverage significantly. If it were not for these valuable contributions, there would be no publicly available data in Angola, the Bahamas, Cambodia, DR Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Latvia, Nigeria, Syria, and Ukraine.IQAir visual’s 2019 world air quality report
Ghana’s EPA does some air quality monitoring — only in some parts of the Greater Accra Region — but their data are not publicly accessible.
Ghana’s EPA does not issue air pollution alerts even when poor air quality is expected to impact health.
Read more about Ghana’s air pollution problems here:
Some Recent Air Pollution Research Findings
- Researchers14 from the University of Surrey have discovered that drivers in poorer cities are exposed to higher levels of in-car particulate pollution when they open their car windows for ventilation. Turning on the recirculation function exposed commuters to around 80 percent less fine particles than those who open their car windows, the study found.
- A new study has linked living near a highway (road traffic pollution) to dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis. The study was published in the journal Environmental Health.
- A new study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry has associated elevated prenatal exposure to harmful air pollutants to mental health problems in children.
- This study in the journal Epidemiology has linked harmful air pollutants to brain cancer, for the first time.
- Researchers have found a strong link between air pollution and violent crime rates in certain parts of the US. The study was published in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management.
- Researchers have found a link between air pollution and early death in the US.
- Exposure to particulate air pollutants may lead to lower sperm production in mice, a study presented at the Endocrine Society’s 2019 annual meeting in New Orleans has found.
- Examining “16 years’ worth” of data from 68.5 million people, researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health15 have found a strong causal link between exposure to air pollution and early death in the US.
How would you tackle Ghana’s dirty air problems? Leave your comment below.
February 26, 2020
14 Min read time