US to include it under megacity projects
The appearance of clear and blue skies over Addis Ababa belies an inconvenient truth, as daily air-quality monitoring by the US Embassy reveals a moderately polluted atmosphere, which might potentially affect people sensitive to particle pollution.
Sara Terry, senior policy advisor with the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), told The Reporter on Friday that air pollution in many instances cause health complications, mostly for children. Cardiovascular diseases, respiratory problems, asthma and the like are some of the health challenges short-lived air pollution causes.
Based on the embassy’s air quality monitoring data gathered at two sites, one at the mission compound and the other at the International Community School (ICS), an air quality index (AQI) reading of between 61 and 65 was registered. The readings translate that Addis is moderately polluted as the index for moderate pollution ranges from 51 to 100. A good air quality should range between zero and 50, according to AQI. But a clearer measurement of air quality the World Bank Group and others use describes air quality in terms of micro grams per cubic meters (µg/m3). According to this measurement, the countrywide score stood at 36, which according to Terry, is very unhealthy compared to US standards of 12 units of air pollution (µg/m3). According to Terry, the US has been able to monitor and control air pollution for the past 50 years.
Both Terry and Christopher M. Nyce, regional environmental officer for East Africa, said that monitoring air quality in and around the city is one of the indicators that showed how polluted or clean the air quality is in town. Based on the factors that air pollution is increasingly becoming a global concern, a project called Megacity Partnership Project has been launched to help African cities learn and adopt best practices from the US and around the world.
For the past two years, Accra has been participating in the project where, in addition to daily monitoring of air quality and management, they are devising a mechanism which helps to invest in suitable air quality control technologies. EPA’s Megacity Partnership Project also stretches to San Diego and would, in the foreseeable future, look into Addis Ababa or Johannesburg, and either of these two cities would join the initiative, Terry said.
Though the US has been able to control air pollution to acceptable levels, there is still a lot to be done to achieve cleaner air, both Terry and Nyce noted.