May 11, 2024





Here in Nigeria, the issues of air pollution and climate change are not just threats to our environment; they are direct assaults on our public health. Many of us are breathing air that could be harming our lungs, compounded by the increasing impacts of climate change. This article looks into how air quality is connected to respiratory health and stresses the necessity for us to act urgently to protect our well-being.

The Air We Breathe: Understanding the Impact

Our air pollution arises from several sources: vehicle emissions, industrial activities, and the widespread burning of biomass. In cities like Lagos and Port Harcourt, we often face dangerously high levels of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides. These pollutants can penetrate deep into lung tissue and even enter our bloodstream, leading to a range of respiratory problems and other severe health issues.

Moreover, climate change exacerbates air quality issues. Increased heat accelerates the formation of ground-level ozone, a harmful pollutant created when sunlight reacts with pollutants like nitrogen oxides. Additionally, changing weather patterns can lead to more frequent dust storms, especially from the Saharan Desert, covering many parts of our country with fine, harmful dust particles.

Health Implications of Poor Air Quality

The health impacts of air pollution are profound. Chronic exposure can cause conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Air pollution is also a known risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer. The most vulnerable among us are children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing health conditions.

Compounding this, the effects of climate change also increase the prevalence of respiratory allergies and infections. Heatwaves can worsen the symptoms of respiratory diseases, making the air not only harder to breathe but also more dangerous.

Policy Interventions and Government Action

To address the dual threats of air pollution and climate change, comprehensive policy action is required. We need stricter emissions standards for vehicles and industrial processes, promotion of cleaner production technologies, and better enforcement of environmental regulations.

Urban planning is crucial as well. Increasing green spaces in our cities can improve air quality and create natural sinks for carbon and other pollutants. Investing in public transportation can reduce the number of vehicles on the road, which is one of the main sources of urban air pollution.

Additionally, policies must encourage the use of renewable energy sources over fossil fuels. By supporting solar, wind, and hydroelectric power projects, we can reduce our reliance on coal and oil, which are major contributors to air pollution and climate change. Government incentives for businesses and homeowners to install renewable energy systems can accelerate this transition.

Public health policies should also integrate climate considerations. This means enhancing surveillance for climate-sensitive diseases, improving water storage and sanitation to prevent waterborne illnesses, and ensuring that health services are prepared to deal with the increased burden of climate-related health issues.

Community and Individual Actions

While it’s vital for the government to act, we as communities and individuals can also make significant contributions to improving our air quality. Using public transport, carpooling, biking, or walking not only reduces our carbon footprint but also decreases the pollutants we release into the air.

We can engage in tree-planting initiatives which help filter pollutants and provide shade, reducing the urban heat island effect. Educating ourselves and our neighbours about the health risks of air pollution can empower more of us to demand cleaner air and support sustainable practices.


The connection between air pollution, climate change, and respiratory health cannot be overlooked. As we continue to face these environmental challenges, it is imperative that we take decisive action to ensure the air we breathe is clean and safe. By implementing comprehensive policies and encouraging community and individual actions, we can protect our health and secure a more sustainable future for all Nigerians. By tackling air pollution and climate change, we’re not just saving the environment; we’re saving our lives, one breath at a time.

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