Brain Development on Children Article:
Africa is experiencing both an epidemiological and an environmental transition. Air pollution from households is the major form of air pollution, but it is decreasing, whereas ambient air pollution is rising. This article will establish how air pollution is affecting human capital, health, and the economy across Africa, with a particular focus on Rwanda, Ghana, and Ethiopia.
Africa currently has the world’s youngest population with a median age of 19.7 years. It’s population is forecasted to more than triple by 2100, from 1.3 billion to 4.3 billion. The continent is experiencing urbanization and is expected to have 13 mega cities by the end of the century. This is due to its countries building infrastructure, advancing economically, and industrializing.
Back in 2019, air pollution took away 1.1 million lives across Africa. Air pollution produced by households made up for 697,000 deaths whilst ambient air pollution accounted for 394,000. Deaths related to ambient air pollution increased from 361,000 in 2015 to 394,000 in 2019, with the biggest surge in the most highly developed countries.
Non-communicable diseases is the main cause of deaths due to ambient air pollution. In 2019, the loss in economic output due to air pollution related mortality and morbidity was $349 million in Rwanda, $1.63 billion in Ghana, and $3.02 billion in Ethiopia. PM2.5 pollution was accountable for the loss of 1.96 billion IQ points in African children in 2019.
In the absence of deliberate human intervention, ambient air pollution will continue to increase across Africa. This will decrease economic productivity, prevent development, heighten mortality and morbidity, and impair the formation of human capital. However, the good news is that most African countries are still in their initial stages of development, thus they have an opportunity to switch to solar and wind energy. Thereby evading the trap of relying on fossil-fuel based economies and decreasing pollution.
Estimation of intelligence quotient (IQ) loss
Children's exposure to air pollution during critical stages of brain development during pregnancy and infancy can result in brain damage, which lowers cognitive performance as shown by IQ scores and prevents the development of human capital. We systematically searched through global literature to create an exposure-response function measuring the association between early life exposure to air pollution and IQ decrease. The US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Office of Health Assessment and Translation's systematic review and evidence integration technique, which is detailed in the PRISMA statement, was adopted by us (appendix p 1). With the use of this methodology, we were able to quantify the link between particulate matter (PM)25 concentration and IQ decline in children under the age of ten.
In most of Africa, household air pollution is the main source of air pollution, but it is slowly and unevenly diminishing. On the other hand, ambient air pollution is starting to rise. Electricity production, industrial emissions, vehicle exhaust, wind-blown dust, and crop burning are some of the factors that contribute to ambient air pollution. Annual mean PM25 pollution levels in many African nations are higher than the WHO's recommended limit of 10 g/m3. 17 In sub-Saharan Africa, the annual average PM25 concentration in 2019 was 45 g/m3. Mean PM2-5 concentrations in Ghana, Ethiopia, and Rwanda were all significantly greater than 10 g/m3. 7
1. Hao Y Peng H Temulun T et al.
How harmful is air pollution to economic development? New evidence from PM2·5 concentrations of Chinese cities.
J Clean Prod. 2018; 172: 743-757