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Charcoal is a woodfuel produced in rural areas and consumed in cities and towns. Some of the factors influencing the choice of using charcoal instead of firewood in urban areas include: Charcoal has a higher calorific value per unit weight that firewood, it is therefore moree conomic to transport charcoal over longer distances as compared to firewood; Storage of charcoal takes less room as compared to firewood; Charcoal is not liable to deterioration by insects and fungi which attack firewood; Charcoal is almost smokeless and sulphur – free, as such it is ideal fuel for towns and cities. It is estimated that approximately 1.5 billion people in developing countries derive at least 90% of their energy requirements from wood and charcoal. Another one billion people meet at least 50% of their energy needs this way. In most developing countries, 90% of the people depend on fuelwood as their chief source of fuel and each year the average user burns anywhere from a fifth of a ton, in extremely poor, wood short areas such as India, to well over a ton in parts of Africa and South Asia (GFC, undated). In 1999, it was estimated that 1.9 billion m³ of wood was burned for cooking, to provide heat or to manufacture charcoal for later burning (FAO, 1999).


Large-scale charcoal production, primarily in sub Saharan Africa, has been a

growing concern due to its threat of deforestation, land degradation and climate change impacts. It is cited as the most environmentally devastating phase of this traditional energy supply chain, and despite increasing per capita income, higher electrification rates, and significant renewable energy potential, charcoal still remains the dominant source of cooking and heating energy for eighty percent of households in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) (Arnold et al, 2006; Zulu and Richardson, 2013). As a traditional fuel that has been used for hundreds of years, it serves as a lifeline for the rapidly increasing populations in the urban centers of the region, in addition to potentially significant portions of the rural population. Due to its low cost compared to other fuels like kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas, as well as other factors that will be discussed in the coming sections, the demand for charcoal is expected to continue rising dramatically in the coming decades, despite best efforts by modern energy advocates. Charcoal use in SSA is predicted to double by 2030, with over 700 million Africans relying on it as a durable, preferred, and cheap source of energy. With a forecasted increase in consumption, there is a great need to identify real versus perceived energy futures with respect to charcoal. Research has shown that large-scale transitions to modern energy sources will only occur once a certain income threshold is met, while other studies have indicated that even with large increases in earned income, the large majority of many SSA countries continue to utilize charcoal. If a continued reliance on charcoal is suggested, there is an even greater need to evaluate and address the

environmental and social issues associated with this highly influential, and largely

informal, industry.

Air pollution is the introduction of chemicals, particulate matter, or biological materials that cause harm or discomfort to humans or other living organisms, or cause damage to the natural environment or built environment, into the atmosphere. It can be defined as the presence in the outdoor or indoor atmosphere of one or more gaseous or particulate contaminants in quantities, characteristics and of duration such as to be injurious to human, plant or animal life or to property, or which unreasonably interferes with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property (Odigure, 1998). It has been difficult to achieve cooperation for air pollution control in developing countries like Nigeria, whose chief concern is to provide such basic need as food, shelter and employment for her populace.

A substance in the air that can cause harm to humans and the environment is known as an air pollutant. Pollutants can be in the form of solid particles, liquid droplets, or gases. In addition, they may be natural or man-made (Anderson, 2005). The atmosphere is a complex dynamic natural gaseous system that is essential to support life on planet Earth. Stratospheric ozone depletion due to air pollution has

long been recognized as a threat to human health as well as to the Earth’s ecosystems. Indoor air pollution and urban air quality are listed as two of the world’s worst pollution problems in the 2008 Blacksmith Institute World’s Worst Polluted Places report (Anderson, 2005).



The pollutants emitted from a charcoal production site have the ability to cause adverse health affects such as respiratory diseases. The charcoal producers in this region are not well enlightened and do not consider the the dangers these emissions possess if the enter the environment in significant levels. Hence, they would not be able tackle the problem of air pollution and green house gas emissions produced by the pryolysis of charcoal. Worryingly, the government through the medium of environmental protection agencies do not pay much attention to these process produces considerable amounts of green house gases and suspended particle matter which are discharged into natural receptors, (majorly  air)  leading to major environmental problems in the long run.


A review of the literature surrounding charcoal supply chains in Sub-Saharan

Africa paints a clear picture that the demand for this energy source will not remain

stagnant, but will increase dramatically through the year 2030 . Even in countries where electrification rates are at their highest, as in  Ghana, 60-70% of the population still use charcoal for cooking and heating , a finding identified in numerous studies that deviates from the traditional energy ladder model. Electricity rarely replaces charcoal as a fuel, though increases in income lead to higher usage of more refined fuels, like kerosene and LPG, to replace biomass; this helps to illustrate the negative, and often misleading, correlation found between charcoal and electrification. In some of the least developed countries, like Liberia, where less than one percent of the population is connected to grid electricity, 95% rely on traditional biomass fuels in the form of wood and charcoal. In the growing rural areas, charcoal is the primary fuel used for heating and cooking, as poor infrastructure, high cost, and low-income levels limit market growth for refined cooking fuels.


Health-related impacts associated with woodfuels have traditionally focused on

effects from their consumption. Indoor air pollution (IAP) is the primary concern given the high concentrations of smoke and particulate matter released during woodfuel combustion. Smith et al (2002) documented trends in respiratory illness among disproportionate numbers of women and children as a result of IAP from woodfuel combustion throughout the developing world. However, little is known about the nhealth impacts endured by charcoal producers during extraction and production phases. For example, it is known that pyrolysis, the process utilized for the production of charcoal, releases significant amounts of gaseous by-products, including carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and others  known to be deadly to humans in moderate concentrations through the use of dose-response studies.  Rural producers are known to work within close proximity to high temperature kilns that off-gas these highly toxic compounds, generating potential high risk for poisoning. In addition, use of primitive tools can potentially lead to moderate or severe injuries, which can prove fatal in rural areas that lack access to adequate medical care. Academic literature and government reports refer to the working conditions of charcoal producers as unsafe; government officials and research papers alike mention these ‘hazards’ in passing.

Additional indicators of social threats include widespread child labor, gender differences in education and production outcomes, extreme price variability often at the hands of merchants and the lack of potential for poverty alleviation in current methods of production. The lack of regulation in the charcoal industry creates the highest risk of

exploitation and safety hazards, yet no studies have investigated in-depth the health and social risks associated with the production of this highly demanded fuel.


1.3 Aim and Objectives of Study

The aim of this study is to determine the presence of air pollutants in significant concentrations and its spatial distribution to its surrounding environment along a two kilometre radius and its effects  on in one of it.

The specific objectives are to

  1. Determine the presence of air pollutants in gaseous emissions discharged from a charcoal production facility.
  2. Run ambient air quality analysis to determine the spatial distribution of these air pollutants in the surrounding environment over a 2km radius.
  3. Compare results of the study to national and international standard such as the world health organisation and draw out conclusions.
  4. Suggest solutions to the problems of these air pollutants to the surroundings and give recommendations and control methods.



This study will help confirm the true distribution of air pollutants discharged from t production of charcoal in the sampled community. The concentration, translocation and distribution of the specified air pollutants in relation to the  distance will also be determined; this should help complete a holistic pollution cycle analysis. Results of this research project should further serve as baseline studies for further research work on charcoal production in amukpe sapele and studies on the effects of the charcoal industry’s activities.


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