Onitsha, a city in Anambra state, is the most polluted in the world, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In a report on Global Urban Ambient Air Pollution, the organisation said Onitsha has about 30 times more than the recommended small and fine particulate matter (PM).
Kaduna was listed 5th, while Aba and Umuahia – both in Abia state – came 6th and 16th respectively, leaving with Nigeria the highest number among the 20 most polluted cities in the world.
WHO says in the past two years, it has monitored 3000 cities in 103 countries and has found that globally, air pollution, has risen by eight per cent in the last five years.
WHO measured the level of pollution by the amount of “small and fine particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) during the five-year period of 2008-2013.
“PM10 and PM2.5 include pollutants such as sulfate, nitrates and black carbon, which penetrate deep into the lungs and into the cardiovascular system,” the report read.
The rise in air pollution has caused a rise in “the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma, increases for the people who live in them”.
WHO says people in low income countries are the worst hit by air pollution.
“More than 80% of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO limits,” the organisation said.
“While all regions of the world are affected, populations in low-income cities are the most impacted. According to the latest urban air quality database, 98% of cities in low- and middle income countries with more than 100 000 inhabitants do not meet WHO air quality guidelines. However, in high-income countries, that percentage decreases to 56%.”