RESEARCH FOCUS: The research group will study all the different aspects of environmental pollution in Nigeria and examine their health impact in terms of human health and development index.
There has been an increase in disability-adjusted life years and mortality due to cardiovascular diseases (CVD). The mortality due to CVDs  has maintained an upward trend with 28% in 1990, 29% in 2001 and a projected figure of 31.5% in 2020.1 However, the pattern of cardiovascular disease  has differed from region to region for many years.1,2 The predominant diseases in  Africa were rheumatic heart disease, hypertension and cardiomyopathies; in Asia and Oceania, rheumatic heart disease, hypertension, coronary heart disease and cor pulmonale; in South America, hypertension, rheumatic heart disease, cardiomyopathy and cor pulmonale and in USA, hypertension, coronary heart disease and cardiomyopathy.1,2
The geographic differences in the pattern of cardiovascular disease may be due to different stages of developmental transition driven by industrialization, urbanization and associated lifestyle changes.3 The industrial revolution which started in late 18th and early 19th centuries in Europe, USA and continued in the 20th and 21st centuries in Russia, India, China, other Asian countries and some parts of Africa brought in economic and social transformation.2 The resulting urbanization, production of new chemical products left in its trail enormous amounts of environmental pollutants. As a result, cardiovascular risk profiling in the developed countries has now taken environmental pollutants into consideration.4
Environmental pollutants (EP) are solids, droplets and gases that cause harm to every living thing. They may be natural or anthropogenic. They may be found in the outdoor or indoor environment, in the air, water, land or food. Environmental pollutants may be classified as primary – (emitted directly from a process) or secondary- (when there is interaction of primary pollutants and sunlight, water vapor and or clouds).5 Primary pollutants include particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, benzene, volatile organic compounds, toxic metals, chlorofluorocarbons.5 Secondary pollutants are particulate matter, ozone and peroxyaceylnitrate.5
The association between high levels of environmental pollutants and human illnesses has been known for more than half a century. The initial epidemiological research was prompted by episodes of extreme increases in urban pollution. The first was in the Meuse Valley, Belgium, in December 19307. The second was the London fog incident of 19528 where stagnant weather conditions caused a sharp increase in the concentration of air pollutants, and over several days more than three times as many people died than expected, leading to an estimated excess death toll of over 4000. This culminated in the Clean Air Act legislation of 1970.8 There is now documented evidence of environmental pollution and associated adverse health effects in almost every region of the world. On a global scale, the World Health Organization has estimated that 800 000 deaths occur per year and 7.9 million disability-adjusted life-years are lost annually due to particulate matter exposure.9
The African continent is certainly not alienated from the environmental transformation in other parts of the world. The African Environment Outlook-3 (AEO-3), which was commissioned by the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) has warned that environmental risks may contribute up to 28 per cent of Africa’s disease burden and that current air pollution can be 10 to 30 times higher than World Health Organization limits.20
Environmental pollution in Africa includes air, land and water pollution but air pollution seems to be more perversive and affects almost the lifetime of persons exposed. Air pollution emitted in Africa comes from five sources, mainly biomass burning and vehicular emission, as well as natural emission from vegetation and soil, lightning Nitrous Oxide emissions, and other anthropogenic sources – such as emissions related to the combustion of fossil-fuel for energy, industrial and domestic uses.21
What must be troubling to conutries in other hemispheres is Aghaedo et al model calculations  which suggest that more than 70% of the tropospheric ozone produced by each of the African emissions is found outside the continent, thus exerting a noticeable influence on a large part of the tropical troposphere.21 Apart from the Atlantic and Indian Ocean, Latin America experiences the largest impact of African emissions, followed by Oceania, the Middle East, Southeast and south-central Asia, northern North America (i.e. the United States and Canada), Europe and north-central Asia, for all the emission categories.21
Gas flaring is one of the most predominant environmental pollution in Niger Delta, Nigeria, leading to the emission of carbon dioxide, methane, sulfur compounds and aromatic hydrocarbons. When petroleum crude oil is extracted and produced from onshore or, raw offshore oil wells natural gas associated with the oil is produced to the surface as well. This gas is allowed to burn or flare openly causing environmental pollution. Nigeria is the second leading gas flaring nation in the world.12 In Nigeria also, petrol filling stations are sited indiscriminately in residential areas, and none of these stations have gasoline vapor-recovering devices, thereby allowing the petrol fumes get into the environment. Occasional leaks into the soil from cracked crude oil pipelines occur. These sources form significant environmental pollution. There are now a number of studies demonstrating that petroleum products caused significant non-cardiovascular organ damage in Nigeria. A recent study on sonographic assessment of the toxicological effects of chronic exposure to petroleum products on the liver and kidney in Nigerians confirmed that exposure to petroleum products is a predisposing factor to hepatic and kidney function impairment 13. The study concluded that the findings are instructive,  given the abuse in some developing countries like Nigeria, where petroleum products are easily available and used carelessly by artisans and the general populace and sometimes as therapeutic agents for the treatment of snake bites, arthritis, convulsion and gastro-intestinal disorders among others 13.
Some of the peculiarities of environmental pollution in Nigeria include14
i.80 % of industries in Nigeria discharge wastes directly into the
ii.environment-land, air, water pollution
iii.Waste treatment facilities are either nonexistence or obsolete
iv. Poor public electricity supply lead to use of environmentally
polluting electricity generators, kerosene lanterns, biomass fuel
v.Gas flaring, petroleum products spillage causes enormous
vi.Poverty leads to use of biomass fuel and environmental polluting
cooking devices causing significant indoor pollution
1. Mathers, C. D., Lopez, A., Stein, D., et al. Deaths and disease burden by cause: Global burden of disease estimates for 2001 by World Bank country groups. Disease Control Priorities Project
Working Paper 18 April 2004. Revised January 2005 (http:// www.dcp2.org/file/33/wp18.pdf).
2. Gaziano, J. M. (2008). Fundamentals of cardiovascular disease. In P. Libby, R. O. Bonow, D. L. Mann, et al. (Eds.), Braunwald’s heart disease: A textbook of cardiovascular medicine (8th ed., pp. 1–21). New York: Saunders Elsevier.
3. Omran, A. R. (1971). The epidemiologic transition. A theory of the epidemiology of population change. The Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly, 49, 509.
4. Mendis, S., Puska, P., & Norrving, B. (Eds.). (2011). Global atlas on cardiovascular disease prevention and control. Geneva: World Health Organization (in collaboration with the World Heart Federation and World Stroke Organization).
5. Brunekreef, B., & Holgate, S. T. (2002). Air pollution and health. Lancet, 360(9341), 1233 1242.
6. Anakwue RC, Anakwue AC. Cardiovascular Disease Risk Profiling in Africa: Environmental
Pollutants are not on the Agenda. Cardiovasc Toxicol 2014; 14:193–207. DOI 10.1007/s12012-013-9242-y
7. Nemery, B., Hoet, P. H.,&Nemmar, A. (2001). The Meuse Valley Fog of 1930: An air pollution disaster. Lancet, 357, 704–708.
8. Logan, W. P. (1953). Mortality in the London fog incident, 1952. Lancet, 1, 336–338.
9. WHO. (2000). Air quality guidelines for Europe (2nd ed). Copenhagen, World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, 2000 (WHO Regional Publications, European Series
No. 91). WHO/SDE/PHE/OEH/06.02.
10. Bonetti, P. O., Lerman, L. O., & Lerman, A. (2003). Endothelial dysfunction: A marker of atherosclerotic risk. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 23, 168–175.
11.  Aghedo, A. M., Schultz, M. G., & Rast, S. (2007). The influence of African air pollution on regional and global tropospheric ozone. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 7, 1193–1212.
12.Hassan, A., & Kouhy, R. (2013). Gas flaring in Nigeria: Analysis
of changes in its consequent carbon emission and reporting.
Accounting Forum, 37(2), 124–134.
13 Anakwue, A. C. (2013). Sonographic assessment of the toxicological effects of chronic exposure to some petroleum products on human liver and kidney. Unpublished PhD Thesis,
University of Nigeria
14. Anakwue RC, Anakwue AC. Cardiovascular Disease Risk Profiling in Africa: Environmental
Pollutants are not on the Agenda. Cardiovasc Toxicol 2014; 14:193–207. DOI 10.1007/s12012-013-9242-y
1. Dr RC Anakwue – Senior Lecturer, Consultant Cardiologist and Clinical Pharmacologist
2. Prof C Chijioke- Professor of Clinical Pharmacology and Consultant Physician
3. Dr  E Arodiwe-Senior Lecturer, Consultant Nephrologist
4. Dr O Onwuekwe-Senior Lecturer, Consultant Neurologist
5. Dr O Ekwueme- Lecturer, Consultant Public Health
6. Dr A Anakwue-Senior Lecturer, Medical Imaging Scientist/ Radiation and Environmental Protection unit.