What Are the Environmental Problems in Lagos?

pollution image by Joseph Chiapputo from Fotolia.com

Considered the dirtiest capital city in the world, Lagos, Nigeria, faces a broad range of environmental issues for its rapidly growing population.

The rate of migration in the city is faster than the city can keep up with, leading to problems with solid waste management, water potability, sewage system management and drainage issues. Food, soil, air and water contamination are environmental concerns in Lagos.

Industrial Waste

A number of industrial complexes, once on the periphery of Lagos, are now butted up against some of the schemes, or planned housing areas, that have moved further out as Lagos' population has grown. Waste, sometimes toxic waste, is dumped by the industries along with household waste rather than being contained, converted or disposed of in a manner befitting chemical waste. The waste then makes its way into the soil and the groundwater. Consequently, dangerous levels of iron and nitrate have contaminated food and water.

Solid Waste and Poor Sanitation

With the influx of large numbers of persons to a city lacking sanitary infrastructure, Lagos suffers with poor sanitation and an inability to effectively manage solid waste. Approximately half of the 200 "slum" communities in Lagos have been labelled "severely blighted" and receive funding for upgrades and development of solid waste management, drainage systems and drinkable water. But the rate of new populations surpasses the rate of infrastructure development, leaving many communities without adequate sanitation services.

Water Pollution

Due to poorly managed waste in Lagos, the water in the city carries a number of bacterias well above the levels recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Although the city performs better than some outlying rural areas or surrounding impoverished communities, water in Lagos contains levels of nitrate, lead, iron, mould and coliform beyond the WHO limit.

Air Pollution

With a large population in a small land-mass area, over 70 per cent of the nation's industry located in the city, approximately a million cars on the road each day and 40 per cent of Nigeria's total fuel use by the city's residents, Lagos injects about three tonnes of lead into the air daily. In addition, improper or incomplete combustion of waste at the home and industrial level releases contaminant levels of carbon monoxide and nitric oxide.