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Community perceptions of air pollution and related health risks in Nairobi slums
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0556-1483
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2013 (English)In: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, ISSN 1661-7827, E-ISSN 1660-4601, Vol. 10, no 10, 4851-4868 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Air pollution is among the leading global risks for mortality and responsible for increasing risk for chronic diseases. Community perceptions on exposure are critical in determining people's response and acceptance of related policies. Therefore, understanding people' perception is critical in informing the design of appropriate intervention measures. The aim of this paper was to establish levels and associations between perceived pollution and health risk perception among slum residents. A cross-sectional study of 5,317 individuals aged 35+ years was conducted in two slums of Nairobi. Association of perceived score and individual characteristics was assessed using linear regression. Spatial variation in the perceived levels was determined through hot spot analysis using ArcGIS. The average perceived air pollution level was higher among residents in Viwandani compared to those in Korogocho. Perceived air pollution level was positively associated with perceived health risks. The majority of respondents were exposed to air pollution in their place of work with 66% exposed to at least two sources of air pollution. Less than 20% of the respondents in both areas mentioned sources related to indoor pollution. The perceived air pollution level and related health risks in the study community were low among the residents indicating the need for promoting awareness on air pollution sources and related health risks.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 10, no 10, 4851-4868 p.
Keyword [en]
perceived air quality, air pollution, perceived health risk, urban slum
National Category
Environmental Health and Occupational Health Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-84022DOI: 10.3390/ijerph10104851ISI: 000330520500020PubMedID: 24157509OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-84022DiVA: diva2:678711
Available from: 2013-12-12 Created: 2013-12-12 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Making visible the invisible: Health risks from environmental exposures among socially deprived populations of Nairobi, Kenya
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Making visible the invisible: Health risks from environmental exposures among socially deprived populations of Nairobi, Kenya
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background: Most countries of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are experiencing a high rate of ur­banization accompanied with unplanned development resulting into sprawl of slums. The weath­er patterns and air pollution sources in most urban areas are changing with significant effects on health. Studies have established a link between environmental exposures, such as weather variation and air pollution, and adverse health outcomes. However, little is known about this relationship in urban populations of SSA where more than half the population reside in slums, or slum like conditions. A major reason for this is the lack of systematic collection of data on exposure and health outcomes. High quality prospective data collection and census registers still remain a great challenge. However, within small and spatially defined areas, dynamic cohorts have been established with continuous monitoring of health outcomes. Collection of environmental exposure data can complement cohort studies to investigate health effects in relation to environmental exposures. The objective of this research was to study the health effects of selected environmental exposure among the urban poor population in Nairobi, Kenya.

Methods: We used the platform of the Nairobi Urban Health and Demographic Surveillance System (NUHDSS), including two nested research studies, to provide data on mortality and mor­bidity. The NUHDSS was established in two areas of Nairobi, Korogocho and Viwandani, in 2003 and provides a unique opportunity for access to longitudinal population data. In addition, we conducted real-time measurements of particulate matter (PM2.5) in the areas from February to October in 2013. We obtained meteorological measurements from the Moi Air Base and Nairobi airport weather stations for the study period. We also conducted a cross-sectional survey to estab­lish the communities’ perceptions about air pollution and its related health risks. Time series re­gression models with a distributed lag approach were used to model the relationship between weather and mortality. A semi-ecological study with group level exposure assignment to individuals was used to assess the relationship between child health (morbidity and mortality) and the extent of PM2.5 exposure.

Results: There was a significant association between daily mean temperature and all-cause mor­tality with minimum mortality temperature (MMT) in the range of 18 to 20 °C. Both mortality risk and years of life lost analysis showed risk increases in relation to cold temperatures, with pronounced effect among children under-five. Overall, mortality risks were found to be high during cold periods of the year, rising with lower temperature from MMT to about 40% in the 0–4 age group, and by about v 20% among all ages. The results from air pollution assessment showed high levels of PM2.5 concentration exceeding World Health Organization (WHO) guideline limits in the two study ar­eas. The air pollution concentration showed similar seasonal and diurnal variation in the two slums. The majority of community residents reported to be exposed to air pollution at work, with 66% reporting to be exposed to different sources of air pollution. Despite the observed high level of exposure, residents had poor perception of air pollution levels and associated health risks. Children in the high-pollution areas (PM2.5≥ 25 μg⁄m3) were at significantly higher risk for morbidity (OR = 1.30, 95% CI: 1.13-1.48) and cough as the only form of morbidity (OR = 1.33, 95% CI: 1.15-1.53) compared to those in low-pollution areas. In addition, exposure to high levels of pollution was associated with high child mortality from all-causes (IRR=1.15, 95% CI: 1.03-1.28), and indicated a positive association to respiratory related mortality (IRR=1.10, 95% CI: 0.91-1.33).

Conclusion: The study findings extend our knowledge on health impacts related to environmental exposure by providing novel evidence on the risks in disadvantaged urban populations in Af­rica. More specifically, the study illustrates the invisible health burden that the urban poor population are facing in relation to weather and air pollution exposures. The effect of cold on population is preventable. This is manifested by the effective adaptation to cold conditions in high-latitude Nordic countries by housing standards and clothing, as well as a well-functioning health system. Further, awareness and knowledge of consequences, and reductions in exposure to air pollution, are necessary to improve public health in the slum areas. In conclusion, adverse health impacts caused by environmental stressors are critical to assess further in disadvantaged populations, and should be followed by development of mitigation measures leading to improved health and well being in SSA.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2015. 60 p.
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1734
Keyword
air pollution, urban health, temperature-related mortality, particulate matter, exposure assessment, child health
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject
Epidemiology; Public health
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-106857 (URN)978-91-7601-306-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-09-11, Sal 135, Allmänmedicin, Norrlands Universitetssjukhus, Umeå, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2015-08-21 Created: 2015-08-11 Last updated: 2015-08-21Bibliographically approved
2. Air pollution in Nairobi slums: sources, levels and lay perceptions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Air pollution in Nairobi slums: sources, levels and lay perceptions
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background

Air quality in Africa has remained a relatively under-researched field. Most of the African population is dependent on biomass for cooking and heating, with most of the combustion happening in low efficiency stoves in unvented kitchens. The resulting high emissions are compounded by ingress from poor outdoor air in a context of poor emissions controls. The situation is dire in slum households where homes are crowded and space is limited, pushing households to cook in the same room that is used for sleeping. This study assessed the levels of particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter £ 2.5 microns (PM2.5) in slum households and people's perceptions of and attitudes towards air pollution and health risks of exposure in two slum areas, Viwandani and Korogocho, in the Nairobi city.

Methods

The study employed both qualitative and quantitative methods. For the quantitative study, we used structured questionnaires to collect data about the source of air pollution among adults aged 18 years and above and pregnant women residing in the two study communities. We used the DustTrak™ air samplers to monitor the indoor PM2.5 levels in selected households. We also collected data on community perceptions on air pollution, annoyance and associated health risks. We presented hotspot maps to portray the spatial distribution of perceptions on air pollution in the study areas. For the qualitative study, we conducted focus group discussions with adult community members. Groups were disaggregated by age to account for different languages used to communicate with the younger and older people. We analysed the qualitative data using thematic analysis.

Results

Household levels of PM2.5 varied widely across households and ranged from 1 to 12,369μg/m3 (SD=287.11). The household levels of PM2.5 levels were likely to exceed the WHO guidelines given the high levels observed in less than 24 hours of monitoring periods (on average 10.4 hours in Viwandani and 11.8 hours in Korogocho). Most of the respondents did not use ventilation use in the evening which coincided with the use of cookstove and lamp, mostly burning kerosene. The levels of PM2.5 varied by the type of fuels, with the highest emissions in households using kerosene for cooking and lighting. The PM2.5 levels spiked in the evenings and during periods of cooking using charcoal/wood. Despite these high levels, residents perceived indoor air to be less polluted compared with the outdoor air, possibly due to the presence of large sources of emissions near the communities such as dumpsites and industries. The community had mixed perceptions on the health impacts of air pollution, with respiratory illnesses perceived as the main consequence while vector or sanitation related diseases such as diarrhoea was also perceived to be related to air pollution.

Conclusions

With poor housing and reliance on dirty fuels, households in slums face potentially high levels of exposure to PM2.5 with dire implications on health. To address the poor perception on air pollution and knowledge gaps on the health effects of air pollution, education programs need to be developed and tailored. These programs should aim to provide residents with information on air quality and its impact on the health; what they can do as communities as well as empower them to reach out to government/stakeholders for action on outdoor sources of pollution such as emissions from dumpsites or industries. The government has a larger role in addressing some of the key pollution sources through policy formulation and strong implementation/enforcement.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå University, 2017. 68 p.
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1903
Keyword
Air pollution, perceptions, slums, health impacts, Nairobi
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject
Epidemiology; Public health
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-138293 (URN)978-91-7601-739-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-09-01, Sal 135, byggnad 9 A, Allmänmedicin, Norrlands universitetssjukhus, Umeå, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-08-18 Created: 2017-08-17 Last updated: 2017-08-21Bibliographically approved

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