By Kenneth Ehigiator
LAGOSâ€”THE Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NIMET, said yesterday that the acid rain, Nigerians have expressed considerable fear about was expected to come down in Lagos and Port Harcourt because of the industrial nature of the two cities.
The Agency, however, assured that the rain would not be acidic enough to cause cancer or any other debilitating health problem.
NIMETâ€™s Acting Director, Weather Forecasting Services, Mr. Ifeanyi Nnodu, who spoke at yesterdayâ€™s World Meteorological Day celebration in Lagos, said the acid rain would result from the chemical substances being pumped into the atmosphere by industries in the two cities.
He said: â€œWhat will happen is that in some places like Lagos or Port Harcourt where you have heavy industries, it may facilitate corrosion of metallic objects and it affects plants here and there. There is nothing to be worried about, it doesnâ€™t cause cancer and it is not associated with the moon.
â€œWhether you have black ring or yellow ring around the moon is not what causes acid rain. Acid rain is caused by manâ€™s activities that inject the oxides of carbon, nitrogen and sulphur into the atmosphere and when the rain falls, it brings down those particles back and they affect plants, metals and some others.â€
Nnodu said the pH of the acid rain that was expected would be below seven, adding that wasnâ€™t enough to cause any health problem to man. He said the low acid in the rain will only be able to cause corrosion to metallic objects and affect plants, but not human beings.
Present weather condition not strange
Noting that there was nothing strange in the present weather condition in the country, Nnodu said only Lagos and Port Harcourt would even experience marginally lower pH level reading because of the large concentration of industries in both cities.
He said: â€œI have given several interviews on acid rain. The moon does not cause acid rain, acid rain is associated with industrialization that you have when you have the offshoot of nitrogenÂ Â sulphur being injected into the atmosphere because of industrialization activities of factories.
â€œWhen you have rain, those deposits will be brought down by the rain. And it does not cause cancer, it just means that the rains that fall, the pH of the rain which normally should be about seven, is below seven and you can say the rain is acidic.
â€œIt is something that happens normally in industrial areas not because you are in March 2010. People should go about their business. When it rains, you go about what you are doing and people should not keep indoors because of rainfall and acid rain.
â€œWhat we are saying is that before 2010 and after 2010, factories that inject these substances into the atmosphere, people who live around there, when the rain falls, the rain may be acidic but it does not cause cancer.
â€œIn fact, it is something that people have been experiencing in the past and the World Meteorological Organization, WMO, the Nigeria Meteorological Agency take measurement and advise that these types of gases should not be injected into the atmosphere.
â€œAll rainwater contains some level of acidity. Acidity is measured by pH, which stands for potential of hydrogen. The pH scale measures the amount of acid in a substance. It is measured on a scale from 0-14, with seven being neutral. The lower the number is on the pH scale, the more acidic that substance is. Normal rainwater has a pH of 5.6. When the pH level of rainwater goes below 5.6, it is considered acid rain.
â€œAcid rain indeed looks, feels, and tastes just like clean rain. There are many forms seen around the world. In parts of the world where there is wet weather, there is acid rain, acid snow, and acid fog. In parts of the world where there is dry weather, such as Nigeria, there is acid gas and acid dust. All of the lakes and streams in the world are normally slightly acidic. Heavy rainstorms or melting snow can cause the acidity in lakes and in streams to increase.
â€œAcid rain is very harmful to the environment. It damages everything over a period of time because it kills living things in the environment. Acid rain affects life in the water as well as the life on land. In truth, the harm to people from acid rain is not direct. Walking in acid rain, or even swimming in an acid lake, is no more dangerous than walking or swimming in clean water.â€ On when the current bad weather would abate, Nnodu explained that the situation would continue for sometime, especially in the north, until the rains set in.
He explained: â€œAs of yesterday we still had some slight dust being raised from the dust region. That is at the desert area in Niger Republic and Chad Republic. We had straight dust coming, but we have to get one thing clear, that at this time of the year, the south western wind that brings in much dust is already getting active.
â€œThe north-eastern wind that brings the dust is coming down. And the line where the two of them meet, that is what we call the Inter-Tropical Discontinuity line. And there will be fluctuations, one pushing the other with the ITD fluctuating.
â€œSo the dust may persist for time in the northern parts but from the predictions we gave concerning the onset of the raining season, the southern part is already getting to its offset and the dust, apart from this period that we are having dust now, we are expecting that the rains will come and the dust will disappear.â€
Asthmatic and respiratory challenges
The NIMET director who also spoke on the present weather condition on human health, however, advised people with asthmatic and other respiratory challenges to stay indoors so as not to aggravate their conditions.
Meanwhile, the haziness in the weather continued yesterday with its disruptive effects on flight operations. Flight operations to the north remained suspended by airlines, with the exception of Abuja.
There was, however, some improvement in flight operations in the southern part of the country, as more flights were operated out of the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos, compared to Monday. Besides, the domestic terminals of the airport were also largely de-congested of stranded passengers.