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Air pollution from urban traffic

Posted 17.05.2014 by Team - View comments

We use about 15,000 litres (15kg) of air daily: the quality of air we breathe is vital to our health!

Transportation is the main source of air pollution. Through combustion of petrol and diesel, fuel-powered vehicles pollute the air through the release of gases and particles. As road traffic and the number of vehicles increase in Dakar, urban transportation is a major cause of air pollution.

The major pollutants responsible for air pollution include:

- Hydrocarbons and their additives including lead and sulphur

- Combustion by-products (carbon monoxide, unburnt hydrocarbons, nitrogen monoxide and soot)

While awareness of the health impact of urban traffic hazards is high in the countries of the North (as evidenced by the manufacturing of new environmentally friendly vehicles), the contrary is true in the countries of the South, where there is little or no control on the importation of highly polluting second-hand vehicles (over 10 years old).

The global automobile fleet already surpasses one billion (source: International Organisation of Automobile Constructors-OICA) and according to the United Nations, between now and 2050 this figure is likely to triple.

As the following statistics show, air pollution affects human health, causing:

- 40% of all strokes

- 40% of all coronary artery diseases

- 11% of all chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases

- 6% of lung cancers

- 3% of chronic infections of the lower respiratory tract in children

The ecological consequences of air pollution are equally appalling; petroleum processing - from extraction to their combustion - releases harmful pollutants into the air, water and soil.