World Health Organization (WHO) released a ranking data that placed Onitsha as the most polluted city in the world. Out of the twenty most polluted cities in the world Onitsha was ranked number one.
“The most polluted city in the world, according to the WHO data, is Onitsha, a fast-growing port and transit city in south-eastern Nigeria that recorded levels of nearly 600 micrograms per cubic metre of PM10s - around 30 times the WHO recommended level of 20 micrograms per cubic metre… the data only includes measurements for particulates and does not include forms of air pollution such as NO2 and ozone, ” as reported by UK Guardian.
"Particulate matter," also known as particle pollution or PM, is a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets. Particle pollution is made up of a number of components, including acids (such as nitrates and sulfates), organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles."
World Economic Forum also added that :
“Of the 3,000 cities in the WHO’s air quality database, the most polluted at the time of measurement was Onitsha, a fast-growing city in Nigeria, which recorded roughly 30 times more than the WHO’s recommended levels of PM10 particles. Peshawar in Pakistan was in second place, followed by Zabol in Iran.
These cities are mostly located in rapidly growing economies in the Middle East and South East Asia. Four of the 20 urban areas with the worst air quality at the time of measurement were in Nigeria, three were in Saudi Arabia, three were in India, and two in Iran.
China, which has been working to tackle its air pollution problem, is the only country with just one city on the most polluted list.
The Eastern Mediterranean (covering the Middle East and parts of North Africa) and South East Asia were the regions that performed worst overall in the database – with urban air pollution rising 5% in more than two-thirds of cities. Annual mean levels of air pollution in cities in these regions often exceeded five to 10 times WHO limits. Among mega-cities (urban areas with over 14 million inhabitants) Delhi and Cairo had the highest levels of urban air pollution. “
Dr Maria Neira, director of public health at the WHO in Geneva, said
“We have a public health emergency in many countries. Urban air pollution continues to rise at an alarming rate, wreaking havoc on human health. It’s dramatic, one of the biggest problems we are facing globally, with terrible future costs to society. The cost for countries is enormous. Air pollution affects economies and people’s quality of life. It leads to major chronic diseases and to people ultimately dying.”