World Environment Dayis celebrated on the 5th of June every year. It was created by theUnited Nations to raise awareness about the environment and encourage peopleall over the World to protect and care for it. The first World Environment Daywas celebrated in 1974 in Spokane, USA. Since 1974, the WED has been hosted bydifferent cities in 25 countries. Each year, the WED seeks to address anenvironmental problem. The Theme for WED 2019 is “Beat Air Pollution”.
Air is a vital aspectof life. It sustains humans, animal and plant life. We cannot exist withoutair. The cells in the human body require air to breakdown complex organicmolecules to produce energy for daily functions. Air is an important factorwhich must be present for seed germination to take place. Air is life. Air,which is a gift of life, is clean and safe for humans, but due toindustrialization and poor agricultural practices, air is gradually losing itssafe characteristics. When the quality of air is altered, it could lead todrastic consequences on life. Air pollution is the introduction of harmfulsubstance (e.g. gases and dust particles) into the atmosphere in a way that isharmful to human and animals.
Air quality is alteredby the quality of particulate matter in the atmosphere. The W.H.O guidelinestipulates that pm 10 must not exceed 20 microgram/m3 annual mean or 50microgam 24-hour mean. According the World Health Organization (WHO) report of2016, four of the worst cities in the world for air pollution are in Nigeria.Onitsha was named as the World’s most polluted city for air quality, whenmeasuring small particulate matter concentration (PM10). The other three citiesmentioned were Kaduna, Aba and Umuahia.
In 2015, the World Bankdeclared that 94 per cent of the population in Nigeria is exposed to airpollution levels that exceed WHO guidelines, and air pollution damage costsabout one per cent post of Gross National Income. According to the Global AirReport published y Health Effects Institute (HEI), Nigeria has the highest number of air pollutionrelated deaths in Africa. The air people breathe in Nigeria is more likely tocause harm than the air in any other country in Africa and fourth highest inthe World with a static of 150 deaths per 100,000 people.
Beinga speech delivered to commemorate WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY BY MR. PATRICK UDUMA (MD, ICREN SERVICES).