Motor vehicle traffic is an important source of air pollution in Nairobi and other cities in the developing world, where rapid growth, coupled with a lack of effective transport and land use planning, may result in harmful levels of fine particles (PM2.5) in the air. However, a lack of air quality monitoring data hinders health impact assessments and the development of transportation and land use policies that could reduce health burdens due to outdoor air pollution. To address this need, CSUD worked with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and University of Nairobi’s Institute for Nuclear Science and Technology in carrying out a study of traffic-related PM 2.5 in July, 2009. The study findings, taken together with survey data suggest that many Nairobi residents are exposed on a regular basis to elevated concentrations of fine particle air pollution, with potentially serious long-term implications for health. Findings and policy implications of the study can be found in the paper “Traffic Impacts on PM2.5 Air Quality in Nairobi, Kenya” in Environmental Science and Policy, volume 14 (2011), pp 369-378. More recently, we have also been exploring the implications of low cost monitors with partners at at the US EPA, MIT and UNEP. See “A Nairobi Experiment in Using Low Cost Air Quality Monitors“.
Together with our partners, we are currently building on the 2009 study, carrying out further research and analysis to determine traffic-related black carbon levels in Nairobi, which impact climate change and health. This can help transport planners and policymakers identify ways forward in the planning and designing of a road network that supports a comprehensive transit system in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner that also supports the local community.