Scientists warn of risk from air pollution over the megacities of West Africa

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A new study warns of the risks posed by the increasing air pollution over the West Africa cities amid fears it could have an impact on human health, meteorology and regional climate.

Rapidly expanding cities such as Lagos in Nigeria, Accra in Ghana and Abidjan in Ivory Coast are producing large amounts of harmful aerosols and gaseous pollutants.

Scientists say human health, food security and the climate of the region is at risk, and there is an urgent need for better observations and models to quantify the magnitude and characteristic of these impacts.

As the population of the region grows these changes may intensify, the scientists say.

The study, published in Nature Climate Change, is part of a EU-funded research project that is led by Prof. Peter Knippertz from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, in collaboration with other European and African institutions.

Prof. Mat Evans, based at the Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories at the University of York, said: ‘The story here is that climate change is happening, there’s no doubt about that.’

He said the most urgent need now was to collect much needed data from the atmosphere above West Africa.

‘Ultimately, what we want to be able to do is make predictions about what we think will happen in a five-year, 10-year, and 50-year timescale. The environmental degradation maybe local but the implications can be regional and global. One of the potential impacts is population migration. If people have no food because the climate is changing in their region then they will move. There are knock on effects.’

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