‘Our youngsters are gasping’ – Senegal’s poisonous air battle

Two-year-old Thayi at Senegal's Albert Royer Children's Hospital

Two-year-old Thayi loves the aerosol remedy room at Senegal’s Albert Royer Kids’s Hospital, the place she will get to go to sleep on her mom’s lap, respiration deeply – one thing that’s normally onerous to do.

The masks over her face pumps out drugs that soothes her asthmatic lungs, a situation worsened by air air pollution.

The hospital within the capital, Dakar, has a big unit devoted to respiratory points.

Dr Idrissa Ba, who has been working there for 15 years, says the variety of sufferers retains rising and rising – one thing he thinks is linked to worsening air high quality within the metropolis.

Dakar does have significantly dangerous ranges of out of doors pollution or tiny particles, referred to as particulate matter (PM), which is how air pollution is measured.

Air air pollution: What’s particulate matter (PM)?

Microscopic particles that may be inhaled into the lungs and trigger critical well being issues
The particles are available in many tiny sizes, usually from visitors fumes, and could be made up of lots of of various chemical compounds

PM10 – particles of 10 microns and smaller in diameter (one micron is one thousandth of a millimetre)

PM2.5 – particles of two.5 microns and smaller in diameter, about 20 instances smaller than a grain of sand and sufficiently small to get into the blood stream
Proof is rising that PM can restrict the expansion of kids’s lungs

Researchers are investigating the potential results of those particles on circumstances reminiscent of dementia

About seven million individuals are estimated to die every year from publicity to superb particles that penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system

What does air air pollution do to our our bodies?

These particles can attain deep into the physique with the hazard of inflicting lasting harm to folks’s well being.

In line with the World Well being Group (WHO), a secure stage of PM10 needs to be 20 and the extent of PM 2.5 needs to be 10.

In Dakar, the common ranges are 146 for PM10 – seven instances greater than really useful – and 30 for PM2.5.

That is based on Senegal’s centre for air high quality management, whose director, Aminata Mbow Diokhané, says you will need to perceive that the majority cities don’t respect the suggestions.

She provides that Dakar is likely one of the solely cities in Africa to measure air high quality every day.

Others on the continent are more likely to have far worse ranges, she says.

Africa’s ‘soiled gasoline’

There are two essential the explanation why air high quality in Dakar can get significantly dangerous:

Pure air pollution. Yearly throughout the dry season, an disagreeable wind, referred to as the harmattan, blows in mud from the Sahara.
Air pollution from business and vehicles. With a rising inhabitants, the variety of vehicles and buses on the roads preserve growing in Dakar.

And whereas there are extra vehicles in London or Tokyo, these in Dakar trigger extra harm to the setting as a lot of them are outdated or second hand, that means they pollute extra.


It is true that we have now an issue with automobile air pollution, however right here folks additionally burn their garbage outdoors within the open”

Extra considerably, gasoline imported to Africa incorporates a lot greater ranges of sulphur than that utilized in Europe or the US, as an investigation in 2016 by Swiss marketing campaign group Public Eye revealed.

This implies vehicles utilizing “soiled gasoline” emit extra poisonous fuel thought of a significant pollutant.

“Right this moment the diesel requirements in Senegal are nonetheless at 5,000 elements per million as in comparison with Europe at 10 elements per million,” Jane Akumu, a spokeswoman for the UN Atmosphere’s Air High quality and Mobility Unit instructed the BBC.

Anybody who walks round Dakar or drives with their home windows open is most of the time submerged by clouds of thick black smoke coming from surrounding exhaust pipes.

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Some autos in Dakar, together with many taxis, are greater than 30 years outdated

“The excellent news is that in December 2018, technical specialists from the area met in Abidjan [in Ivory Coast] and agreed to harmonise low sulphur gasoline requirements in quite a few West African nations,” Ms Akumu stated.

This nonetheless must be permitted by heads of state, however specialists hope that by the top of the 12 months all gasoline imports to the area, together with to Senegal, may have decrease sulphur ranges.

‘Altering attitudes’

For Dr Ba this may solely be excellent news.

“We have carried out research on the affect of air pollution on youngsters’s well being and we concluded there’s a very vital correlation between the extent of small particles and the variety of sufferers having bronchial asthma assaults,” he says.

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The typical age of sufferers on the Albert Royer Hospital is 5

However he believes extra guidelines must be introduced in to control autos and says additionally it is about altering attitudes.

“Air pollution is an issue that impacts everybody so the response have to be international, however folks also needs to be extra accountable, pollute much less,” he says.

“It is true that we have now an issue with automobile air pollution however right here folks additionally burn their garbage outdoors within the open, for instance.”

You may additionally be concerned about:

The WHO estimates that round seven million folks die yearly from publicity to superb particles that penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system, inflicting illnesses together with stroke, coronary heart illness and lung most cancers.

Kids are significantly affected as a result of they breathe extra air than adults, in proportion to their measurement, and their organs will not be absolutely developed.

The typical age of sufferers at Albert Royer Hospital is 5.

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Dr Idrissa Ba says early remedy for kids with respiratory issues is essential

A kind of who has been recognized with pneumonia, a lung an infection, is a 20-month outdated child boy.

His mom, who prefers to stay nameless, watches over her fragile baby, whispering: “My message to different mother and father is that they need to be vigilant and keep watch over their youngsters’s well being.”

Dr Ba agrees that early remedy is essential.

“We all know that many younger youngsters who’ve bronchial asthma, infections, allergic reactions, if we do not deal with them early, their pulmonary capability could be diminished by 10%.”

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