The History of Dakar Air Quality & How They’re Using Air Quality Technology Today

Air Quality in Dakar

What if every breath of air is putting your health at risk? 

While it sounds counterintuitive, this is the reality of the citizens of Dakar, Senegal.  

And that’s a great cause for concern for health officials. With air pollution levels reaching hazardous levels nearly every day, residents face an increased risk of developing pulmonary, cardiovascular, and neurological diseases just by stepping outside their front door. 

However, we don’t know much about the air quality in Dakar, meaning it’s hard to implement effective and informed policies to improve it. Luckily, changes are around the corner. The Center for the Control of Air Quality of Senegal (CGQA) is working on an air quality monitoring program to bolster the city’s air quality data.  

Today, we’re discussing how the data from PurpleAir air quality monitors is helping Dakar's government in creating targeted solutions that address air quality issues all over the city.  

History of Air Quality in Dakar

Dakar is a city in Africa with one of the highest urbanization rates. Because of this, the city of Dakar has been grappling with poor air quality for years. The rapid expansion and development of the city has brought in higher rates of air pollution particularly in recent years.

According to BBC, Dakar air pollution levels exceed the World Health Organization’s limits for particulate matter by over 7 times. Additionally, Nafissatou Oumar Toure Badiane, the chief of pulmonology at Fann University Hospital in Dakar, estimates that at least 33% of the population has a respiratory disease. 

5 Causes of Dakar's Poor Air Quality

The state of Dakar's air quality can be attributed to these 5 primary factors: 

  1. Transportation emissions. Many of the vehicles in Dakar are second-hand, meaning they emit high levels of sulfur, diesel, and gasoline. This is made worse by the fact that 73% of the country’s transportation occurs in the city. 
  2. Economic and industrial activities. Being Senegal’s capital, Dakar holds 80% of the country’s economic and industrial activities. Unfortunately, these businesses heavily rely on fossil fuels for energy. 
  3. Harmattan. Every December to April, dust from the Sahara Desert travels to Dakar. As a result, citizens in Darak are bombarded by severe dust storms and poor outdoor air quality. 
  4. Dumpsite. Another major cause of air pollution is smoke from the large Mbeubeuss dumpsite which travels to Dakar. Despite the distance, the still smoke drastically worsens the air quality of the city. 
  5. Construction activities. Finally, as Dakar continues to grow, more buildings and roads are being constructed. That construction is also increasing the number of toxins in the air. 

How Dakar is Building Effective Air Quality Programs 

Currently, there are only 6 stationary air quality monitors that cover the entire city. So, Dakar's government doesn't have enough data to create and implement policies that combat local air pollution. 

To compensate for these data gaps, CGQA is working together with the Evaluation Department of the World Bank Group (DIME) and the Dakar Urban Transport Agency (CETUD) to expand Dakar's air quality network. However, professional-grade air quality monitors cost thousands of dollars to set up and maintain. 

Thankfully, other air quality technology has become more readily available. Today, Dakar is building its air quality network by investing in low-cost air quality monitors. This helps researchers and air quality officials capture localized air quality data without going over budget.  

One of the air quality monitors they invested in is PurpleAir air quality monitors. 

By placing over 25 PurpleAir air quality monitors throughout the city, the city of Dakar aims to: 

  • Educate and involve the public in enhancing air quality. 
  • Build a more comprehensive picture of the state of air quality in Dakar. 
  • Accurately identify the sources of air pollution and determine how they’re affecting the people of Dakar. 
  • Develop targeted strategies, policies, and sanctions that minimize and eliminate air pollution in the city. 
  • Understand the real-time efficacy of the air quality solutions once they’re implemented. 
  • Encourage more air quality studies that deepen the city’s understanding. 
  • Deliver more timely air quality news, so residents can protect themselves from ambient air pollution. 

Already, Dakar’s government has noticed patterns in air quality levels. For example, they discovered that air pollution decreased by 63% on weekends.

This is significant as the government now knows exactly how air pollution from mobile sources impact the air quality of the city. Because of this, they understand what steps they need to take to improve Dakar’s air quality. 

Connect With PurpleAir  

At PurpleAir, there are tons of organizations and researchers around the world using our data—from Google to the EPA. We’re thrilled to see research like this being used to help local neighborhoods, and we look forward to seeing plenty more in the future.  

Are you a technology company or institution looking to work with PurpleAir?  

We’d love to connect and see how we can help you. Whether you’re interested in our air quality monitors or using our air quality data for your projects, feel free to reach out.