Boda Boda’s , motorcycles used for transport are big polluters in East African countries, according to a new study.The study found Boda Boda, proportionate to the amount of fuel consumed, can emit thousands of times more toxic gases than much larger vehicles such as heavy trucks and buses.Researchers also found an alarmingly high level of the cancer causing compound, benzene, in emissions. They said restrictions on Boda Boda could improve air quality in many cities around the region.Fossil fuel-powered vehicles emit significant particulate matter, for example, black carbon and primary organic aerosol, and produce secondary organic aerosol. Cars and trucks, particularly diesel vehicles, are thought to be the main vehicular pollution sources. This needs re-thinking, as research show that elevated particulate matter levels can be a consequence of asymmetric pollution from Boda Boda that constitute a small fraction of the fleet, but can dominate urban vehicular pollution through organic aerosol and aromatic emission factors up to thousands of times higher than from other vehicle classes. Also, oxidation processes producing secondary organic aerosol from vehicle exhaust also form potentially toxic reactive oxygen species.The composition of air pollution in each of the East African cities is unique. However, emissions from Boda Boda, particularly diesel have been identified as main contributors. They contributed to the pollution on a daily basis.The concentration of the particles varies during the seasons but, as a whole, fine particle pollution has serious health implications. The study found that 3.5 million people will likely die prematurely each year by 2030 because of fine particle pollution, which are particles smaller than 2.5 micrometres in diameter with Boda Boda contributing more than 60%. According to the data in my possession, nost deaths will be from cardiopulmonary disease and a smaller percentage from lung cancer.
One of the authors told your blogger that the the concept of attributable cases due to air pollution exposure was central to estimating its health impact and health burden.The author said these estimates did not take into account the impact of fine particle air pollution with other respiratory problems, increased medication use and school or work absence.Unlike deaths due to traffic accidents, the impacts of Boda Boda air pollution on health cannot be directly counted, but must be evaluated from estimates of health risk based on scientific research. Boda Boda urban air pollution is associated with a whole range of health risks.East Africa’s air pollution is relatively low compared to other parts of the world. But that doesn’t mean countries in the region shouldn’t do anything. They still should reduce because there are benefits to be gained.The health risk assessment report found if the amount of fine particle pollution from Boda Boda was reduced by up to 20 per cent the impacts would be immediate. The researchers estimated that in the first year of reduced exposure, there would be 10,000 fewer deaths in the region by 2030.The author said pollutants in the air could be solid or liquid particles in suspension, or gases and added that the airborne particles of primary concern were PM10, and a subgroup of finer particles referred to as PM2.5, which are less than 2.5 µm in size. Gaseous pollutants include ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide.In conclusion the author said there was no evidence of a threshold concentration below which adverse health effects of particulates were not observed.The health effects associated with exposure to Boda Boda pollutants range from small, temporary changes in the respiratory tract and impaired lung function, to symptoms so serious they can lead to death. The consequences for East African population’s health include restricted activity or reduced performance, hospital emergency department visits, or hospital admissions.