The Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), the body tasked with the protection, improvement and regulation of environmental issues in the State held a webinar session on the theme “Clean Air for a Healthy and Sustainable Environment in Lagos (Fantasy or Reality)”. The webinar was held in commemoration of the First International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies on the 7th of September.
This day was set aside by the United Nations General Assembly on December 19, 2019 at the 74th session of the Assembly which designated the 7th of September every year to be marked as the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies. The objective is to raise public awareness at all levels including individual, community, corporate and government while highlighting the crucial point that clean air and a healthy environment are important for health, productivity, the economy and life in general.
Speaking at the webinar, Dr Dolapo Fasawe, the General Manager of the agency, made it known that the Agency was reinvigorating its efforts to reposition LASEPA by aligning its mandate with best global practices and this webinar was an avenue towards that realisation. She noted that the government of Babajide Sanwo-Olu had put the necessary machinery in motion to accelerate policies and plans aimed at improving the quality of the air in the State. She said this while highlighting the emergence of air pollution as the number one public health risk associated with millions of deaths worldwide.
With a population in excess of 20 million and an advanced level of industrialisation, the challenges of environmental degradation are on the increase in Lagos. Dr Fasawe noted that factors such as rapid urbanisation and industrialisation of cities across the State contributed in no small measure to the exposure of people to ecological problems. The adverse negative effect on human health that this brings about is exacerbated by changing climate conditions. As a consequence, the General Manager stressed these should be a wake-up call to accelerate interventions and policies aimed at improving air quality with the objective to increase chances of preventing high mortality rates that are associated with pollution of the environment.
Addressing the major sources of this pollution, Dr Fasawe added “vehicular and industrial emissions” to the list, though she did not fail to clarify that the Lagos metropolis enjoyed what she called “very good Air Quality Index (AQI)” during the lockdowns occasioned by the restrictions placed on both human and industrial activities to curtail spread of COVID-19.
Taking data collection into account, she said that the Lagos State government was committed to the deployment of Air Quality Monitoring Stations at strategic locations to enable the government measure criteria for air pollutants on a 24-hour, real-time basis.
“To mitigate the health risk associated with air pollution, the Agency will also be carrying out a public air quality awareness campaign, particularly in exposed communities with high vehicular movement and industrial activities,” Dr Fasawe added.
Other keynote speakers at the webinar included Prof Greg Erhabor, the renowned Chest Physician and Professor of Medicine at the Department of Medicine, College of Health Sciences of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. He called on his medical expertise to provide a window into how air pollution impacts human health negatively and why it was important that the government across the country pay attention to this health hazard.
Also speaking was the Special Assistant in the Office of the President on Sustainable Development Goals, SDG in Abuja. She focussed her contribution on Air Pollution and all the negative impacts it brings to bear on the country’s determination to follow the global drive towards the attainment of the targets for SDGs.