Makola, Agbogbloshie, Chorkor and Madina Zongo Junction are said to be the five most polluted hotspots in Accra. Results from improved air quality monitoring indicate that these areas have recorded the most consistently poor-quality air standards over a period, with their sources mainly being soot from open waste burning and emissions from vehicles.
The Breath Accra Project Lead, Professor Kofi Amegah, noted that these particulate pollutants are harmful to human health. He said a compilation of data from over four months of monitoring showed that pollution in those areas occurred throughout the day and the readings exceeded the recommended World Health Organisation standards.
According to the Air Quality Index (AQI), good air quality should fall between the range zero to 50 on the index. AQI from 51 to 100 is moderate even though there may be some health concerns for a small number of unusually sensitive individuals like children under five.
Professor Amegah said the installation of over 30 sensors augmenting that of the EPA’s monitoring stations, led to a larger area of the city being continuously monitored for air quality. Even though monitoring is yet to equate the international best practice of having sensors within every five-mile radius, the improved monitoring is revealing real-time air quality, which allows for investigations to understand the sources and causes of the pollution for remedial actions.
The Acting Programme Manager for Non-Communicable Diseases, at the Ghana Health Service, Dr Efua Commeh, explained that the data means more people are getting sick of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases such as asthma. She noted that the dust and soot particles being inhaled can result in lung malfunctioning, heart diseases, cancer, among other ailments.