Nigerian City Has Worst Air Pollution in the World

July 26, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. categorize /ˈkætɪgəˌraɪz/ (v.) – to put into groups
Example: The scientists categorized the chemicals into two groups—solid and liquid.

2. tiny /ˈtaɪ ni/ (adj.) – very small
Example: Students were instructed to look through the microscope to see the tiny particles.

3. booming /ˈbuːmɪŋ / (adj.) – growing or developing
Example: Foreign businesses want to open branches in the city because of its booming economy.

4. reliance /rɪˈlajəns/ (n.) – dependence on something
Example: We need to lessen our country’s reliance on tourism and agriculture.

5. worsening /ˈwɚsn̩ɪŋ/ (adj.) – becoming worse
Example: The city decided to fix its drainage system because of the worsening floods each year.


Read the text below.
Data released by the World Health Organization (WHO) listed Onitsha, a city in southern Nigeria, as the city with the worst air pollution in the world.

The WHO categorizes worldwide air pollution according to two measures of particulate matter labeled as PM2.5 and PM10. Particulate matter are very tiny particles and liquid droplets made up of soil or dust particles, acids, chemicals, and metals. PM2.5 are particles with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers, while the PM10 are particles with a diameter of 10 micrometers, around 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

According to the WHO, Onitsha reached far beyond the recommended levels of PM10. The WHO said that the resulting figures for Onitsha, a booming port city in Nigeria, are about twice as bad as that of Kabul, Beijing, and Tehran, cities that are known for having high levels of air pollution.

Dr. Maria Neira of the WHO said that Onitsha’s reliance on solid fuels for cooking and burning waste, as well as the smoke from old cars, contributes to the city’s worsening air pollution. She added that pollution levels in other cities in Africa are increasing due to rapid economic development and industry without the proper technology.

In just a few years, the booming port city has reportedly doubled in terms of population, reaching over one million people. With its growing population, the city has been experiencing pollution from old ships, factories, and construction sites. Onitsha also has the worst traffic in Nigeria.

However, the WHO said that the air pollution data for Onitsha may somehow be unreliable. According to the health agency, the data came from only a single source, and different seasons and time of day were not included in the readings.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         How can this environmental issue affect Onitsha and Africa in general (e.g. tourism)?
·         What do you think would be the best solution for Onitsha’s problem?

Discussion B

·         Why do you think pollution often comes with economic growth?
·         How does your government address environmental problems?

July 26, 2016