How Do You Know if the Environment is Impacting Your Health?
- 19 Posts
The Nigerian Niger Delta region is known to be the most productive Delta in the world with abundant natural resources and biodiversity. This region plays host to the major oil companies in the world such as Shell, Chevron, Texaco, Exomobil, among others. Since the discovery of oil in the region in 1956 in Oloribiri Ogbia L.G.A of Bayelsa State, there have been series of environmental degradation and pollutions due to oil spills and gas flaring from mining and extractive activities. This region, though rich in natural resources and biodiversity, is known to be the most underdeveloped and impoverished region in Nigeria.
The inhabitants of this region lack the basic amenities of life such as good roads, pipe borne water, adequate food supplies and good health facilities. This has led to the deaths of many as a result of disease ravaging the land by pollution from extractive industries such as oil spills and gas flares among other environmental degradation posed by oil drilling activities. It is a well known fact in the world that the Climate Change challenge currently going on is caused by the release of carbon into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels/gas flaring and fumes from multinational companies and industries.
Harmful Gas Flaring
Gas flaring entails burning off the natural gas associated with crude oil during the refining process of petroleum products where there is no infrastructure to trap and make use of the gas. It is a process in which gas is released by a pressure valve and burned-thereby releasing tones of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in a report by" Friends of the Earth," Nigeria (FOEN) in 2005. About 2.5 billion cubic feet of gas is flared every day. These flares have contributed large volumes of green house gases. This is more than all of sub-Africa combined as well as the release of several dangerous toxins into the atmosphere. It has polluted the soil and thereby affected the health and well being of the Niger Delta communities, exposing inhabitants to an increased risk of premature deaths, respiratory illness such as asthma, cancer and miscarriages in pregnant women. The associated gas flared during oil production gives rise to the release of harmful particulate matter which comprises smoke, sulfur, CFCs and some unburned full compounds such as toluene, Benzene, and xylene, which are toxic to human health. The combination from these chemical substances led to chronic Bronchitis and possibly premature death which have been which reported among children and adults in the Niger Delta. It has also been clearly established that exposure to benzene and its metabolites cause acute leukemia and other blood related diseases in humans who have been exposed to these toxins released from gas flares.
Air Pollution From Gas Flares And Asthma
A lot of Nigerians most especially those in the Niger Delta, are
carriers of this deadly ailment and yet they don’t have a clue to
what it is and what causes it. Unlike the US, about 20 million
people are acquainted with the symptoms of an asthma attack but
in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, nothing of such.
Asthma is a chronic health condition that has no known cure for now, but can be controlled /managed. It is a condition in which the air ways narrows and swell and produce extra mucus which makes breathing difficult and triggers coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. This is a very common ailment in the Niger Delta region today, yet little or no attention is given to it.
Asthma Symptoms And Signs
For possible diagnosis and identification of this ailment (asthma) some symptoms and signs have been observed by physicians over the years which have helped in the management of the ailment worldwide.
Asthma signs and symptoms include:Shortness of breath, chest tightness or pain, trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, a whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling (wheezing is a common sign of asthma in children). Coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by a respiratory virus, such as a cold or the flu.
For some people, asthma symptoms flare up in certain situations:Exercise-induced asthma, which may be worse when the air is cold and dry Occupational asthma, triggered by workplace irritants such as chemical fumes, gases or dust Allergy-induced asthma, triggered by particular allergens, such as pet dander, cockroaches or pollen
It isn't clear why some people get asthma and others don't, but it's probably due to a combination of environmental and genetic (inherited) factors with its major causes linked to allergies and air pollutions from industrial and mining activities such as gas flaring, fumes from oil spills among others.
Exposure to various substances that trigger allergies (allergens) and irritants can trigger signs and symptoms of asthma. Asthma triggers differ from person to person but the major causes of asthma in the Niger Delta region is air pollution from gas flares and oil spills others including:
· Air pollutants and irritants, such as smoke, dust particles and choking smells from oil spills and gas flares.
· Sulfites and preservatives added to some types of foods and beverages
· Airborne allergens, such as pollen, animal dander, mold, cockroaches and dust mites
· Allergic reactions to some foods, such as peanuts or shellfish
· Respiratory infections, such as the common cold
· Strong emotions and stress
· Physical activity (exercise-induced asthma)
· Cold air
· Menstrual cycle in some women
From all indications for us to have a cleaner air and an asthma free environment it is therefore recommended that
· Gas flaring should be stopped permanently in the Niger delta region
· Proper medical attention should be given to asthmatic patients all around Niger Delta region
· Crude oil should be left in the soil and tar sand in their hole.
· Asthma cases should be treated as emergency cases nationwide.
· Free medical attention and check ups should be given to asthmatic patients.
· Asthma care centers should be opened in all general hospitals in the Niger Delta area.
· Individuals living in polluted areas should be relocated to safer and clean environments free of air pollution.
For the records Asthma is not a communicable disease and so we should always lend a helping hand to someone around us experiencing an asthmatic attack because that might save someone's life.