Air quality in Nairobi

Air quality index (AQI) and PM2.5 air pollution in Nairobi

Last update at (local time)

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AIR QUALITY DATA CONTRIBUTORS

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5 Contributors

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Weather

What is the current weather in Nairobi?

Weather icon
WeatherClear sky
Temperature66.2°F
Humidity61%
Wind3.5 mp/h
Pressure30.1 Hg
Air pollution has cost an estimated790 deaths*in Nairobi in 2024Find out more*Air pollution also cost approximately $120,000,000 USD in Nairobi in 2024.

live aqi city ranking

Real-time Kenya city ranking

#cityUS AQI
1The national flag of International Nairobi, Nairobi

137

2The national flag of International Nakuru, Nakuru

123

(local time)

SEE WORLD AQI RANKING

live Nairobi aqi ranking

Real-time Nairobi air quality ranking

#stationUS AQI
1 Dandora Phase 4

172

2 ABC EXPRESS WAY

167

3 Premier Industries

166

4 ICRAF - WORLD AGROFORESTRY CENTER

164

5 Kariobangi North Health Center

158

6 Sandalwood Lane

154

7 NYAYO ESTATE GATE B

149

8 Museum Express Way

134

9 NYERERE ROAD

124

10 UHURU HIGHWAY PARK

112

(local time)

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US AQI

137

live AQI index
Unhealthy for sensitive groups

Human face indicating AQI level

Overview

What is the current air quality in Nairobi?

Air pollution levelAir quality indexMain pollutant
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 137 US AQIPM2.5
PollutantsConcentration
PM2.5
50µg/m³
PM10
28.5µg/m³
CO
55.9µg/m³
!

PM2.5

x10

PM2.5 concentration in Nairobi is currently 10 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value

Health Recommendations

What is the current air quality in Nairobi?

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Forecast

Nairobi air quality index (AQI) forecast

DayPollution levelWeatherTemperatureWind
Monday, Jul 22

Moderate 73 AQI US

Human face indicating AQI level
Weather icon
71.6° 59°
Wind rotating 178 degree 6.7 mp/h
Tuesday, Jul 23

Moderate 72 AQI US

Human face indicating AQI level
Weather icon
73.4° 53.6°
Wind rotating 78 degree 6.7 mp/h
Wednesday, Jul 24

Unhealthy for sensitive groups 106 AQI US

Human face indicating AQI level
Weather icon
69.8° 55.4°
Wind rotating 106 degree 6.7 mp/h
Today

Unhealthy for sensitive groups 137 AQI US

Human face indicating AQI level
Weather icon 30%
73.4° 55.4°
Wind rotating 234 degree 6.7 mp/h
Friday, Jul 26

Moderate 64 AQI US

Human face indicating AQI level
Weather icon 40%
77° 57.2°
Wind rotating 230 degree 6.7 mp/h
Saturday, Jul 27

Moderate 72 AQI US

Human face indicating AQI level
Weather icon
77° 55.4°
Wind rotating 79 degree 8.9 mp/h
Sunday, Jul 28

Moderate 67 AQI US

Human face indicating AQI level
Weather icon
75.2° 57.2°
Wind rotating 75 degree 8.9 mp/h
Monday, Jul 29

Moderate 74 AQI US

Human face indicating AQI level
Weather icon
78.8° 55.4°
Wind rotating 215 degree 6.7 mp/h
Tuesday, Jul 30

Moderate 68 AQI US

Human face indicating AQI level
Weather icon 20%
77° 55.4°
Wind rotating 53 degree 6.7 mp/h
Wednesday, Jul 31

Moderate 63 AQI US

Human face indicating AQI level
Weather icon 40%
78.8° 57.2°
Wind rotating 62 degree 6.7 mp/h

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AIR QUALITY ANALYSIS AND STATISTICS FOR Nairobi

Where does the air pollution data for Nairobi come from?

The Nairobi air pollution data, as of September 2021, is generated entirely from low-cost PM 2.5 monitors that are deployed and operated by a number entities in Nairobi, including the Nairobi County Government, Safaricom, UNEP in addition to a number of anonymous contributors. The data is aggregated and validated by IQAir. The hourly average for each station is published and combined to an hourly city average. In the historic data, the hourly average is combined to a daily average.

How polluted is Nairobi?

Nairobi is the capital of Kenya and one of the largest cities on the African continent. 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. Nairobi is home to many business centers and factories, making it the 4th largest trading area within Africa. Due to these business activities and the sheer amount of people and anthropogenic activities, it is not surprising that Nairobi suffers from its share of air pollution.

The dominant pollutant type in Nairobi is PM2.5. In 2020, the average PM2.5 concentration in Nairobi was 14.7 µg/m3, which is about 1.5 times the recommend annual PM2.5 threshold concentration of the World Health Organization (WHO). The most polluted month in 2020 was July, with an average PM2.5 concentration of 22.6 µg/m3.

Generally speaking, daily air quality in Nairobi typically fluctuates between good and unhealthy levels.

What are the main causes of pollution in Nairobi?

Much of the pollution in Nairobi comes from sources related to the combustion of certain materials, and the mass movement of people and goods. A large number of vehicles, including cars, motorbikes and trucks, many of which are older and 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 older diesel engines, putting out more pollution than seen in newer models.

Other causes of pollution are 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 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.

What are some of the pollutants found in Nairobi?

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 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.

What can Nairobi do to improve pollution levels?

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 replacement of these vehicles with cleaner ones 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.

What are some health issues associated with breathing pollution in Nairobi?

Poor air quality is at the heart of many common health issues, such as asthma. With increasing pollution levels, both the short and long term effects on health increase.

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 caused by elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide.

Air pollution is associated with increased rates of ischemic heart diseases, where the flow of blood to the heart is reduced, causing a shortage of oxygen that is needed. Poor air pollution is also associated with an increased rate of miscarriages, lower birth weight and a higher likelihood of birth defects occurring. Air pollution is also associated with lung and throat cancer, and damage to the blood vessels that can occur because 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.

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