Some residents of Rivers State have expressed concern over the possible health dangers of black carbon emissions, believed to have resulted from illegal refining and constant burning of oil installations in the state.
Residents of Choba, Eleme, Okrika, Trans-Amadi, Iwofe, Okwujagu and Rumuokoro told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday that the area has been experiencing the carbon emissions for some months now.
They said they have been experiencing fumes and soot of black carbon in their homes and offices as well as on their cars and laundries.
Chijoke Ogundu, a civil servant, said the emission might be connected with illegal oil refining and constant burning of oil installations by vandals in the state.
“You can mop the floor three times daily and you will be surprised to see the same floor dotted with soot hours later.
“We wake up in the morning to see cars parked outside already stained with the carbon; this has been on for several months now’’ he said.
Oguroye Soseipriala, a trader residing at Owkujagu, said she woke up in the morning these days to find the black substance in her nostrils.
She expressed fears that the situation could have some severe health implications, saying “this means that we are endangered.”
Nnendah Wachukwu said she usually left her laundries outside and woke up in the morning to find them “thoroughly” stained.
“The implication is that the air we breathe in these parts of the state may have been polluted; something needs to be done quickly to save us.
“If nothing is done, the health challenges that may follow in a few months time may be too much to contend with,’’ she said.
A Port Harcourt-based social commentator, Mambiko Aguma, called on the Rivers and Federal Governments to intensify fight against illegal refineries and oil installation vandalism in the Niger Delta.
He further urged the federal government to immediately undertake full investigation of the emission to determine its effects on human life and the environment.
“The issue at hand requires the full commitment of government in the interest of the inhabitants of the affected areas.
“Government must swing into action to investigate this emission; the lives of the inhabitants are in danger,” he said.
According to experts, black carbon emissions are formed through the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuel, and biomass, and is emitted in both anthropogenic and naturally occurring soot. Black carbon causes human morbidity and premature mortality. In climatology, black carbon is a climate forcing agent.
China, United States and the EU are responsible for more than half of the world’s black carbon emissions.
In a recent report by the World Health Organisation, black carbon emission was described as dangerous to human health because of its tiny size. Apart from affecting human health, it also affects visibility, harms ecosystems, reduces agricultural productivity and exacerbates global warming.
The WHO in a study of 12.6 million deaths in 2012, found that between 13–34 per cent of all deaths, were attributable to the environment.
“When accounting for both death and disability, the fraction of the global burden of disease due to the environment is 22 per cent.
The Earth Institute of Columbia University, commenting on the WHO report said 3.7 million premature deaths were recorded in 2012 due to outdoor air pollution, and 4.3 million to household air pollution.
” The breathing in of particulate matter (composed of black carbon, sulfate, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, mineral dust and water) that measures 10 microns or less in diameter (PM10), poses the greatest health risks because the particles can find their way deep into lungs and the bloodstream, and cause cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and premature death. Formed by the incomplete burning of fossil fuels, biofuels and biomass, black carbon, has a diameter of less than 2½ microns.”, the Institute wrote.
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