US Embassy launches NASA MAIA program in Ethiopia

The Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society and the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia today launched the next phase of the NASA MAIA program in Ethiopia that analyzes effects of air pollution on human health.

The Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols (MAIA) investigation will seek to understand how different types of air pollution affect human health. The event which includes celebrating Earth Day, marked the installation of several ground-based air quality monitors and the preparation for integration with satellite-based measurements of air pollution in Addis Ababa, according to the press statement from the US Embassy in Addis Ababa.

Chargé d’Affaires Ambassador Jacobson urged cooperation to combat climate change saying, “No country alone can solve the problems facing our planet. Working together is the only way to advance our environmental priorities and solve the global problems we face.”

When fully operational, NASA’s Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols (MAIA, pronounced “Maya”) mission will produce daily maps of particulate matter (PM) pollution exposure over at least 10 globally distributed Primary Target Areas (PTAs), including Addis Ababa. The primary goal of the MAIA investigation is to enable health studies in regions impacted by different levels, types, and sources of PM pollution. MAIA data products will enable scientists to explore the effects of mixtures of PM pollution on health outcomes, including those associated with prenatal and early childhood exposure to PM pollution.

As part of the MAIA project, air quality monitors have been installed at the U.S. Embassy, an Embassy warehouse, and Addis Ababa University. These monitors will provide verification of the data collected by the satellite. In addition, the monitors will provide more detailed information on PM pollution in Addis Ababa than has been available previously, allowing for more precise identification of pollution types and sources.

Poor air quality has a significant direct impact on the health of those living in Addis Ababa. Particulate matter concentrations in Addis Ababa are two to three times higher than the standards set by both Ethiopia and the World Health Organization (WHO). It is estimated that as much as five percent (5%) of all deaths in Ethiopia are linked to breathing PM pollution.

The three major questions MAIA aims to address are:
1- What types of airborne particles are dangerous over the short term (days to weeks)? Acute air pollution events have been linked to asthma flare-ups, hospital admissions and premature deaths.

2- What types of airborne particles are dangerous during pregnancy? Breathing air pollution is linked to problems like high blood pressure during pregnancy and low birth weight in infants.

3- What types of airborne particles are dangerous over the long term (multiple years)? Chronic exposure to air pollution causes heart disease and stroke. It is also linked to lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses. The impacts of long-term exposures are known to be much greater than those associated with short-term exposure.
We also have two secondary