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Soot: Experts seek state of emergency in Rivers

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Port Harcourt – Dr Vincent Weli of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) has urged the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency following the lingering soot emission in Port Harcourt and its environs.

Weli, who is a Climatologist and Air Pollution Meteorologist, spoke in Port Harcourt on Thursday.

According to him, soot emission is produced when the air is heated to a very high temperature level altering atmospheric stability.

“Altering atmospheric stability and incomplete combustion of crude oil endangers human life on an unprecedented scale.

“Soot prevents heat from escaping from the earth surface. Once heat is prevented from reaching the earth surface, it vastly reduces ability of the cloud to emit radiation,’’ he said.

Weli blamed the soot and heat wave on the activities of illegal oil refiners as well as indiscriminate burning of tyres and certain activities in abattoirs.

“The heat transmitted back to the earth from the atmosphere is a major cause of the heat wave that residents in Port Harcourt and environs are currently experiencing.

“The soot is usually heavier and noticeable in the morning and evening hours when the temperature is low,” he said.

Weli said that residents in the south-eastern part of Port Harcourt are mostly affected by the soot menace due to wind direction.

The don said that if the soot was not immediately stopped, many may die from cancer and respiratory diseases in the near future.

Dr Omosivie Maduka of the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, College of Health Sciences, UNIPORT, also told NAN that children and the elderly were most vulnerable to the soot.

Maduka, who is also a public health physician, said the soot particle when inhaled from the nostrils into the lungs leads to respiratory, inflammatory and cardiovascular complications.

“The inflammatory process could lead to resistance in the blood vessels, causing the heart to work harder to pump blood.

“When this happens, the situation may result to elevated blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases that could lead to stroke and possible heart attack.

“Also, the soot particle when inhaled causes irritation and inflammation of the lung tissues.

“ This results in cough, and after persistent cough, a wound is created inside the lungs.

“This eventually leads to allergic reactions like asthmatic attacks and other chronic respiratory diseases that reduce the capacity of the lungs to hold air,” he said..

NAN reports the soot particle is 2.5 micron in size and could only be seen through high-powered microscopic lens.

The soot particle, after mixing with air, cannot be prevented from entering homes and offices. (NAN)

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