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High-resolution spatiotemporal measurement of air and environmental noise pollution in Sub-Saharan African cities: Pathways to Equitable Health Cities Study protocol for Accra, Ghana
  1. Sierra N Clark1,2,
  2. Abosede S Alli3,
  3. Michael Brauer4,
  4. Majid Ezzati1,2,5,6,
  5. Jill Baumgartner7,8,
  6. Mireille B Toledano1,2,
  7. Allison F Hughes9,
  8. James Nimo9,
  9. Josephine Bedford Moses9,
  10. Solomon Terkpertey9,
  11. Jose Vallarino10,
  12. Samuel Agyei-Mensah11,
  13. Ernest Agyemang11,
  14. Ricky Nathvani1,2,
  15. Emily Muller1,2,
  16. James Bennett1,2,
  17. Jiayuan Wang3,
  18. Andrew Beddows2,
  19. Frank Kelly2,12,
  20. Benjamin Barratt2,12,
  21. Sean Beevers2,
  22. Raphael E Arku3
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Imperial College London, London, UK
  2. 2MRC Center for Environment and Health, Imperial College London, London, UK
  3. 3Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA
  4. 4School of Population and Public Health, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  5. 5Abdul Latif Jameel Institute for Disease and Emergency Analytics, Imperial College London, London, UK
  6. 6Regional Institute for Population Studies, University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana
  7. 7Institute for Health and Social Policy, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  8. 8Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  9. 9Department of Physics, University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana
  10. 10Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  11. 11Department of Geography and Resource Development, University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana
  12. 12NIHR HPRU in Environmental Exposures and Health, Imperial College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Raphael E Arku; rarku{at}


Introduction Air and noise pollution are emerging environmental health hazards in African cities, with potentially complex spatial and temporal patterns. Limited local data are a barrier to the formulation and evaluation of policies to reduce air and noise pollution.

Methods and analysis We designed a year-long measurement campaign to characterise air and noise pollution and their sources at high-resolution within the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA), Ghana. Our design uses a combination of fixed (year-long, n=10) and rotating (week-long, n =~130) sites, selected to represent a range of land uses and source influences (eg, background, road traffic, commercial, industrial and residential areas, and various neighbourhood socioeconomic classes). We will collect data on fine particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen oxides (NOx), weather variables, sound (noise level and audio) along with street-level time-lapse images. We deploy low-cost, low-power, lightweight monitoring devices that are robust, socially unobtrusive, and able to function in Sub-Saharan African (SSA) climate. We will use state-of-the-art methods, including spatial statistics, deep/machine learning, and processed-based emissions modelling, to capture highly resolved temporal and spatial variations in pollution levels across the GAMA and to identify their potential sources. This protocol can serve as a prototype for other SSA cities.

Ethics and dissemination This environmental study was deemed exempt from full ethics review at Imperial College London and the University of Massachusetts Amherst; it was approved by the University of Ghana Ethics Committee (ECH 149/18-19). This protocol is designed to be implementable in SSA cities to map environmental pollution to inform urban planning decisions to reduce health harming exposures to air and noise pollution. It will be disseminated through local stakeholder engagement (public and private sectors), peer-reviewed publications, contribution to policy documents, media, and conference presentations.

  • statistics & research methods
  • epidemiology
  • public health

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  • Contributors All the authors contributed to this work and have taken part in the academic discussion for writing the study protocol, drafting the article and revising it. SNC, ASA, MB, ME, JB, MBT, AFH, JM, ST, JN, JV, SA-M, EA, BB and RA gave substantial contributions to conception and design and acquisition of data. SNC, ASA, MB, ME, MBT, RN, EM, JB, JW, AB, FK, SB and RA gave substantial contributions to the analysis plan for data. SNC, ASA, MB, ME, JB and RA drafted and revised the manuscript. All authors reviewed the final version.

  • Funding This work is supported by the Pathways to Equitable Healthy Cities grant from the Wellcome Trust (209376/Z/17/Z). SC is supported by a Canadian Institutes for Health Research PhD scholarship as well as an Imperial College President’s PhD scholarship.

  • Disclaimer The content of this manuscript is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funders.

  • Map disclaimer The depiction of boundaries on this map does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of BMJ (or any member of its group) concerning the legal status of any country, territory, jurisdiction or area or of its authorities. This map is provided without any warranty of any kind, either express or implied.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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