Volatile Organic Compound Composition of Urban Air in Nairobi, Kenya and Lagos, Nigeria

Rebecca Cordell, Rikesh Panchal, Emmanuel Bernard, Michael Gatari, Ezekiel Waiguru, Moses Ng'ang'a, James Nyang'aya, Madara Ogot, Michael Wilde, Kevin Wyche, Akeem Abayomi, Rose Alani, Paul Monks, Joshua Vande Hey

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Sub-Saharan Africa is seeing rapid urbanization, with the population of cities such as Lagos and Nairobi growing at a rate of 3–4% a year. The region is extremely under sampled for all air pollutants, particularly VOCs, which are useful markers for source apportionment as well as toxic in their own right. There are many contributors to air pollution in the region, and studies examining fine particulate pollution implicate traffic as the primary source in urban areas. In this pilot study, VOCs were analysed at a selection of roadside and urban background locations in Nairobi and Lagos, and 74 VOCs were quantified. GC×GC–MS/FID analysis revealed all locations were dominated by hydrocarbons typical of vehicle emissions, with the aromatic hydrocarbons benzene and toluene among the most abundant VOCs. Typical personal exposure scenarios for citizens of the cities were calculated to far exceed those of a resident in a city in Europe/US. Finally, the calculated ozone forming potential of the VOCs measured was
    found to be similarly high to other large cities studied with similar air pollution problems. Further study is therefore essential to determine the full extent of VOC pollution in the region and its impact on tropospheric chemistry.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages28
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2021

    Bibliographical note

    This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).


    • volatile organic compound
    • Sub-Saharan Africa
    • ambient air pollution
    • air quality
    • air pollution


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