An important aspect of the new sustainable development goals (SDGs) is a greater emphasis on reducing the health impacts from ambient air pollution in developing countries. Meanwhile, the burden of human disease attributable to ambient air pollution in sub-Saharan Africa is growing, yet estimates of its impact on the region are possibly underestimated due to a lack of air quality monitoring, a paucity of air pollution epidemiological studies, and important population vulnerabilities in the region. The lack of ambient air pollution epidemiologic data in sub-Saharan Africa is also an important global health disparity. Thousands of air pollution health effects studies have been conducted in Europe and North America, rather than in urban areas that have some of the highest measured air pollution levels in world, including urban areas in sub-Saharan Africa. In this paper, we provide a systematic and narrative review of the literature on ambient air pollution epidemiological studies that have been conducted in the region to date. Our review of the literature focuses on epidemiologic studies that measure air pollutants and relate air pollution measurements with various health outcomes. We highlight the gaps in ambient air pollution epidemiological studies conducted in different sub-regions of sub-Saharan Africa and provide methodological recommendations for future environmental epidemiology studies addressing ambient air pollution in the region.
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