Air-pollution trackers seek to fill Africa’s data gap

Low-income sub-Saharan countries bear a high burden of air pollution, but are nearly unrepresented in the research on its health impacts.

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At ten elementary schools on the outskirts of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, newly installed air-quality monitors are quietly collecting data on the level of particulate matter in the atmosphere. The schools are part of a project launched in February to study how air pollution affects children’s health, in an effort to address a major public-health gap in sub-Saharan Africa. Globally, air pollution causes more deaths than any other environmental hazard. But there are little data on its health effects in sub-Saharan Africa. And it’s hard to draw any lessons from similar studies in Europe or North America, because much of the air pollution in sub-Saharan Africa comes from a different source — indoor stoves that burn biomass such as charcoal and firewood. 

By Nicole Wetsman, Nature News


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