There’s no easy way to say it than as it is: the soot in the air is very deadly.
If you’ve been in Port Harcourt in the past six or so weeks you must have noticed the black substance in the air. This substance is the residue of incomplete combustion of hydrocarbon, at least that’s what the experts say. But for non-nerds like myself, it is simply the kind of stuff you see under your kettle after cooking with a kerosene stove or firewood. There are many causes of soot – coal burning, internal-combustion engines, power-plant boilers, field burning, house fires, forest fires, fireplaces, etc – but judging from the enormity of the soot in Port Harcourt and the many oil companies, we’re likely dealing with some dangerous, bio-hazardous, unnatural cause of environmental pollution such as gas flaring, bush burning and all the man-made practices we eventually regret.
There’s no way to sugarcoat it: this constitutes a major health hazard. Soot causes cancer and lung disease, and is the second-biggest human cause of global warming, as on Wikipedia. This leaves room for chronic lung disease, lung cancer, influenza and asthma. As the soot contaminates water, we’re looking at a higher rate of cholera, rashes and other skin disease that result from use of such contaminated water.
What can we do about this? Well, apart from trending the #stopthesoot on Facebook and Twitter, I’m afraid not much. A protest on the other hand is a no-no since it would mean exposing more people to the very danger we should be avoiding. On a good note, it was on the news few days ago that the Governor set up a committee to investigate the soot. It may not be much but at least the authorities are aware and are doing something about it (or so we’re told).
It might interest you to know that there’s an ongoing petition against it on change.org. That’s one thing you can actually do about it: sign the petition. A million signatures might make it stop, who knows? Don’t worry, we have more than two million people in the City so that’s acievable. I’d paste the petition link here for easy access but I’m the first son in my family.
Anyway, please wear a mask when you get out there. I need you alive and healthy. If not for anything else, for you to keep reading my blog posts. Have a great weekend.