Africa on track to contribute to majority of global particulate matter

A study co-authored by researchers from France and Cote d’Ivoire concludes that Africa will contribute as much as 55% of the world’s particle pollutants by 2030.  In 2005, the continent accounted for 5% of suAfrica_Climatelphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions and 20% of organic carbon emissions.  These particles come from petrol and diesel fuel combustion for transportation, and coal, fuel wood, charcoal, and animal waste incineration for heating and cooking.   By 2100, Africa will represent 40% of the world population, with its urban population doubling from 2000 to 2030.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than two million people die every year from breathing in tiny particles in indoor and outdoor air pollution.  These particles can cause asthma and allergies, respiratory and cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

What to do?  The study recommends two strategies to fit the continent’s geography and development:  Increased use of biofuels to decrease domestic emissions in west and east Africa, and decreased reliance on coal as a source of industrial and power plant emissions in southern Africa.