Comparative Assessment of Ambient Air Standards in Rural Areas to Uganda City Centers

Tamie J. Jovanelly, James Okot-Okumu, Richard Nyenje, E. Namaganda

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Background: Little quantitative data has been collected to reflect the ambient air quality in Uganda city centers. This is particularly important as the World Health Organization (WHO) reported in 2014 that 3.7 million people worldwide die prematurely from toxic air quality. This study investigated ambient air quality in Kampala, Uganda and compared it to nearby rural forest reserves. Methods: Over the course of six months, from November 2013 to April 2014, we measured carbon monoxide, oxidants, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide at five different sites using an impinge air quality testing apparatus. This data was compared to the Environmental Protection Agency, WHO, and Ugandan standards for air quality. Additionally, the data was calculated using an Air Quality Index that reflected a range of health risks relating to elevated exposure of individual parameters. Results: We found that the air quality in the city center, particularly at a taxi holding station, was hazardous for inhalation due to elevated carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. Likely, this can be accredited to lethargy, asthmatic conditions, and other related respiratory and cardiovascular health problems of Ugandans who routinely work and live in such polluted environments. Conclusions: Ambient air quality is largely ignored as an environmental concern in Uganda. The limited data set presented in our study suggests that there is a need for more qualitative and quantitative data collection to link vehicle abundance and inadequate traffic distribution patterns to ambient air pollution. Moreover, further investigations of cardiovascular and respiratory problems of urban Ugandans may be the stimulus needed to promote the integration of environmental concerns and health considerations into future urban planning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-380
JournalJournal of Public Health in Developing Countries
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Air standards
  • Air pollution
  • Environmental
  • regulations
  • Uganda


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