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Particulate Matter-Based Air Quality Index Estimate for Abuja, Nigeria: Implications for Health

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Document pages: 9 pages

Abstract: In recent years, urban air quality in developing countries such as Nigeria has continued to degenerate and this has constituted a major environmental risk to human health. It has been shown that an increase in ambient particulate matter (PM10) load of 10 μg m3 reduces life expectancy by 0.64 years. Air Quality Index (AQI) as demonstrated in this study shows how relatively clean or polluted the boundary layer environment of any location can be. The study was designed to measure the level of suspended particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) for dry and wet seasons, compute the prevalent air quality index of selected locations in Abuja with possible health implications. Suspended particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) was assessed using handheld aerosol particulate sampler. The US Oak Ridge National AQI was adopted for the eleven (11) locations sampled and monitored. The study results showed that the air quality of the selected areas in Abuja were generally good and healthy. Dry season, assessments, showed 15 - 95 μg m3 and 12 - 80 μg m3 for PM2.5 and PM10, respectively. While in wet season, 09 - 75 μg m3 and 07 - 65 μg m3 were recorded for PM2.5 and PM10. However at Jebi Central Motor Park, there was light air contamination with AQI of 42 for dry season and 31 for wet season. Other locations had clean air with AQI ≤ 11. It is revealed that clean air exists generally during the wet season. Comparing study outcome to other cities in Nigeria, residents of Abuja are likely not to be affected with health hazards of particulate matter pollution. Nonetheless, the high range of PM2.5 and PM10 (fine and coarse particles) ratio evaluated i.e., 1.06 - 1.79 was higher than the WHO recommended standard of 0.5 - 0.8. This ratio remains a health concerns for sensitive inhabitants like pregnant women and their foetus as well as infants below age five whose respiratory airways are noted to have high surface areas and absorption capacity for fine particulate matter. Vegetation known to absorb suspended particulate matter should be planted across Abuja metropolitan areas and air quality monitoring stations installed at strategic locations for continuous monitoring and evaluations.

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