live AQI index
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Good|| 3 US AQI||PM2.5|
|PM2.5|| 0.8 µg/m³|
PM2.5 concentration in Nairobi air is currently 0 times above WHO exposure recommendation
|Open your windows to bring clean, fresh air indoors|
|Enjoy outdoor activities|
|Monday, Jun 21|
Good 15 US AQI
|Tuesday, Jun 22|
Good 7 US AQI
|Wednesday, Jun 23|
Good 30 US AQI
Good 3 US AQI
|Friday, Jun 25|
Moderate 55 US AQI
|Saturday, Jun 26|
Moderate 67 US AQI
|Sunday, Jun 27|
Moderate 52 US AQI
|Monday, Jun 28|
Good 43 US AQI
|Tuesday, Jun 29|
Good 45 US AQI
|Wednesday, Jun 30|
Good 40 US AQI
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Nairobi is a city located in Kenya, one of the largest cities in the country and also the capital. It also goes by another local name of Enkare Nairobi, meaning cool water in the Maasai language, a reference to the Nairobi river that flows through the city.
Nairobi is home to some 4.3 million people within the city limits, and a further 9.3 million in the extended metropolitan area surrounding the city (including the city inhabitant count). Nairobi is home to many business centers and factories, with a large amount of industry taking place here, making it the 4th largest trading area within Africa. Subsequently, due to these industries and also the sheer amount of people and anthropogenic activities, there would be air pollution coming about as a result.
Observing some of the data taken from Nairobi's PM2.5 recordings, in the latter part of 2020, Nairobi was seen have readings between 4.8 μg/m³, up to 17.4 μg/m³. The first reading represents a good quality of air, actually falling well within the World Health Organizations (WHO's) target goal of 10 μg/m³ or less for the best quality of air.
Whilst this is indeed a good reading, the higher one came in several brackets higher, with 17.4 μg/m³ recorded on the 12th of January 2021. This placed that day (and the surrounding ones) into the ‘moderate’ ratings bracket, which requires a PM2.5 reading of 12.1 to 35.4 μg/m³ to be classed as such.
This shows that whilst there are days and times where Nairobi has a good quality of air, it has a large number of pollutive issues that cause the sudden spikes in pollution and particulate matter, the causes of which will be discussed in short.
Much of the pollution in Nairobi comes from sources related to the combustion of certain materials, and the mass movement of large amounts of people, travelling within the city as well as goods being imported and exported.
This would lead to a large amount of pollution coming from sources such as vehicles, with large amounts of cars and motorbikes inhabiting the roads, many of them running on unclean fuels, as well as having aged motors that produce far more pollution than their newer counterparts would.
There is also the issue of heavy duty vehicles to consider, ones such as trucks, lorries and buses, many of which also run on far outdated engines as well as diesel fuels, putting out pollution that would be far more excessive than what would be considered safe on an international level.
Other causes of pollution would be factory emissions, with many reports of vulnerable demographics such as young children and pregnant mothers being affected by the industrial effluence and fumes given off by factories, lacking the more stringent regulations necessary to keep their air contaminants to a minimum.
As such, factories and industrial areas would be putting out vast amounts of dangerous pollutants, that when coupled with vehicle emissions, combine to create the two biggest sources of pollution in Nairobi.
Other minor sources would be pollution and fine particulate matter coming from construction sites and road repairs, as well as open burning taking place, particularly in areas that have little to no proper garbage disposal or collection, such as low income districts. Refuse, both organic and synthetic can be set ablaze, releasing a plethora of dangerous pollutants into the atmosphere.
With much of its pollution emanating from combustion sources, the types of pollutants found in the air would match these sources as expected. In areas that see high volumes of vehicular activity, pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) would be present, as well as the formation of ozone (O3) under the right conditions, usually as a result of the various oxides of nitrogen coalescing on the ground level, and when subject to high levels of sunlight and ultraviolet radiation (which is plentiful in Kenya), converted into ozone.
Whilst ozone is an invaluable compound in the upper atmosphere for our continued existence, when it forms on ground level as smog, it has a vast array of health issues that come along with it, which will also be discussed in short.
Other pollutants would include fine particulate matter such as black carbon or finely ground silica from construction sites. Microplastics would also be found in the air, along with dangerous metals such as mercury, cadmium and lead. Volatile organic compounds (VOC's) would be found around any area that has burning or combustion taking place, some of which would include dangerous chemicals such as benzene, xylene or formaldehyde. These are a few of the many pollutants that would be found in certain high pollution areas around Nairobi.
Some initiatives that Nairobi could undertake to improve its pollution would be to invest more into public transport infrastructure, getting people onto public transport and other greener forms of transportation such as bicycles within the city center.
Other prominent ones would be the introduction of fines and charges to both vehicles and factories that exceed dangerous levels of pollutive output, with the eventual removal of these offending vehicles off the road being a great step to reducing the amounts of haze, smog, fumes and smoke permeating the air in Nairobi. The same goes for factories, with more stringent air measuring activities taking place around their perimeters to ensure that their pollutive output does not exceed regulated amounts, with heavy fines and threats of shutdown being issued if they break these regulations.
Some health issues that appear when one comes into contact with the many different types of pollutants in the air are numerous, and go up in number and severity as the pollution levels do.
Exposure to ground level ozone can lead to rapid aging and damage to the lungs, with breathlessness, asthma attacks and overall reduced lung function all being possible, side effects that are also common with nitrogen dioxide as well as the various VOC's.
Instances of ischemic heart diseases can develop, as well as instances of miscarriages going up in pregnant woman, along with low birth weight and higher chance of birth defects occurring. Instances of lung and throat cancer will all go up, and damage to the blood vessels can occur via fine particulate matter entering the blood stream via the lungs, wreaking havoc on the circulatory system and causing damage to the livers and kidneys, as well as affecting reproductive health. Of note is that these health issues are more likely to occur during peaks of pollution, and recede as the air quality improves, making preventative measures during periods of high pollution all the more important.