EPA installs 60 air quality monitoring sensors in parts of Accra

About 60 sensors have been installed in some communities in the Greater Accra Region to monitor air quality and generate real time data to inform policy decisions.

Air quality sensors are devices used to detect contaminants in the air, such as particulates, pollutants and noxious gases that may be harmful to human health.

This is part of an initiative by Ghana Urban Air Project to augment Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) monitoring capacity.

Preliminary data from Clean Air Fund funded initiative is already showing some pollution trends and helping to identify pollution hotspots in Accra.

Mr Desmond Appiah, the Country Lead of the Fund, told the Ghana News Agency that per global standards, every city needed to have air quality sensors within five to 10 mile radius.

In Accra, the EPA has a number of sensors but they are not enough to provide adequate data for the city. 

A network of low-cost sensors spread across the city would aid in closing the data gaps that exist.

“Beyond having sensors to collect data, the capacity of technocrats needs to be built to understand and interpret the data and make use of it.

“When the air quality data is aligned to economic and health impact, and used as basis to build awareness among the public, we would be making good progress, ” he said. 

“For now, we are developing a sense of what is happening in Accra but we need more localised data to engage with policy makers on next steps,” he added. 

Mr Appiah explained that as cities grew, they struggled with issues of poor air quality and that Accra, one of Africa’s fastest growing cities, and one of the fastest growing economies, was an example.

The annual average PM2.5 level in Ghana in 2019 was 11 times higher than the WHO 2021 recommended levels.

The Country Lead said fumes from not overaged and poorly maintained vehicles, emissions from industries, indiscriminate burning of refuse, deforestation, wood fuel used for cooking, and shrinking green spaces were some of the major causes of air pollution.

Mr Appiah said without a rethink of development paradigm, which placed health and environmental prudence at its centre, growing cities inhabitants’ health, well-being and socio-economic prospects would worsen.

This, in turn, would hamper economic growth and prosperity.

“We have well crafted environmental laws and structures for delivery, but there is a huge gap in enforcement. This has occasioned some of these problems. The law must work,” he said. 

“There are things we can easily begin to do to reduce pollution and reestablish the country’s leadership in the subregion for environmental stewardship.”

He said the country had comprehensive activities on adaptation and mitigation under the nationally determined contributions for climate change and that there was the need to prioritise those that could generate snowball effect on air quality and health.

Mr Appiah noted that there were great initiatives such as carbon trading market, reinforcing the age limitation on vehicle importation, liquified petroleum gas for cooking energy, energy efficiency, e-vehicles initiative and annual greening. 

“We need to be deliberate and go for those that can yield big impacts first. If we plant trees and enforce the building permitting system the green spaces will increase. We can also look at introducing more public transport systems and promote non-motorised transport, add rail as a major part of our mobility infrastructure development and be efficient in waste management. ” 

Air pollution costs Ghana about $2.5 billion, approximately 4.2 per cent of GDP every year, according to the World Bank.

The World Health Organisation reports that air pollution caused about 28,000 deaths from Non-Communicable Diseases, such as ischaemic heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer in 2019 in Ghana and over one million deaths in Africa.

The 2022 “Pollution to Solution” report by the Clean Air Fund says implementing  identified indicative clean air policies to reduce air pollution could unlock more than $28 million for Accra – around 16 per cent of its financial costs under the business-as-usual scenario in 2040 alone.

Source: GNA

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