Acid-Rain And Cancer Scare In Nigeria!

by L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu

Before now, consequences of acid rainfall was ignored mostly in Nigeria. Those receiving attention were it indirect toxicological effect on acidification owing to high concentration in acidified water of any metal in-contact to leach-out geological formations or pipe-conductors. The truth is organic matter broken down by these acid-prone raindrop evolves byproducts such as carbon dioxide, water and residual dissolved organic matter. .It is believed to be indirectly responsible for elevated rate of colon cancer according to research carried out in the Naval Health Research Center, the university of California, San Diego; United States. The theory which has not yet be ascertained, is n attempt to explain why colon cancer and other cancers are more common among resident-Nigerians.

The negligent attitude of our leadership to enforce clean air standards in Nigeria has contributed to decay in human health and deteriorating individual’s life spans. The Environmental Protection Agency on the ground has sapped corporate profits instead of contributing to outsourcing. Our moderators at Nigeria4betterrule had countered that polluted environmental air quality has generated more death than it has eliminated.

Incessant Gas flaring has introduced chemicals, particulate matter, or biological materials that can cause harm or discomfort to humans or other living organisms, and damage the natural environment into the atmosphere in this part of Nigeria. Primary particles are directly emitted into the atmosphere through man-made (anthropogenic) and natural processes. Anthropogenic processes include combustion from car engines (both diesel and petrol); solid-fuel (coal, lignite and biomass) combustion in households; industrial activities (building, mining, manufacturing of cement, ceramic and bricks, and smelting); erosion of the pavement by road traffic and abrasion of brakes and tyres; and work in caves and mines.

Secondary particles are formed in the air, usually by chemical reactions of gaseous pollutants, and are products of atmospheric transformation of nitrogen oxides mainly emitted by traffic and some industrial processes, and sulfur dioxide resulting from the combustion of sulfur-containing fuels. Secondary particles are mostly found in the fine particulate fraction. The atmosphere is a complex, dynamic natural gaseous system that is essential to support life on planet Earth. Stratospheric ozone depletion due to air pollution has long been recognized as a threat to human health as well as to the Earth’s ecosystems. A study from 1999 to 2000 by the University of Washington showed that patients near and around particulate matter air pollution had an increased risk of pulmonary exacerbations and decrease in lung function. Patients were examined before the study for amounts of specific pollutants like Pseudomonas aerations as well as their socioeconomic standing. Participants involved in the study were located in the United States in close proximity to an Environmental Protection Agency.

During the time of the study 117 deaths were associated with air pollution. A trend was noticed that patients living closer or in large metropolitan areas to be close to medical help also had higher level of pollutants found in their system because of more emissions in larger cities. With cystic fibrosis patients already being born with decreased lung function everyday pollutants such as smoke emissions from automobiles, tobacco smoke and improper use of indoor heating devices could add to the disintegration of lung function.

Cities around the world with high exposure to air pollutants have the possibility of children living within them to develop asthma, pneumonia and other lower respiratory infections as well as a low initial birth rate. Protective measures to ensure the youths’ health are being taken in cities such as New Delhi, India where buses now use compressed natural gas to help eliminate the “pea-soup” smog. Research by the World Health Organization shows there is the greatest concentration of particulate matter particles in countries with low economic world power and high poverty and population rates. Examples of these countries include Egypt, Sudan, Mongolia, and Indonesia. Inside the United States; the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, however in 2002 at least 146 million Americans were living in areas that did not meet at least one of the “criteria pollutants” laid out in the 1997 National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Those pollutants included: ozone, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and lead. Because children are outdoors more and have higher minute ventilation they are more susceptible to the dangers of air pollution.

Whereas in many countries excluding Nigeria; emissions standards are required to set a specific limits to the amount of pollutants that can be released into the environment. Many emissions standards focus on regulating pollutants released by automobiles (motor cars) and other powered vehicles but they can also regulate emissions from industry, power plants, small equipment such as lawn mowers and diesel generators. Frequent policy alternatives to emissions standards are technology standards (which mandate the use of a specific technology) and emission trading. In India, the first emission regulations were idle emission limits which became effective in 1989. These idle emission regulations were soon replaced by mass emission limits for both petrol (1991) and diesel (1992) vehicles, which were gradually tightened during the 1990’s. Since the year 2000, India started adopting European emission and fuel regulations for four-wheeled light-duty and for heavy-dc. Indian own emission regulations still apply to two- and three-wheeled vehicles. Current requirement is that all transport vehicles carry a fitness certificate that is renewed each year after the first two years of new vehicle registration.

On October 6, 2003, the National Auto Fuel Policy has been announced, which envisages a phased program for introducing Euro 2 – 4 emission and fuel regulations by 2010. Standards generally regulate the emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides, particulate matter (PM) or soot, carbon monoxide (CO), or volatile hydrocarbons (see carbon dioxide equivalent).

Additionally, air quality legislation is begging for urgent attention since in developed countries; it has led to widespread use of atmospheric dispersion models, including point source models, roadway air dispersion models and aircraft air pollution models in order to analyze air quality impacts of proposed major actions. There is also need to install cyclone dust collector in the street-corners. Nigeria deserves EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Antimony compounds in the like of Arsenic compounds (6 C, 2), Beryllium compounds (1 C, 16 P),Cadmium compounds (2 C, 24 P), Chromium compounds (2 C, 33 P, 3 F),Cobalt compounds (2 C, 42 P), Cyanides (32 P),Glycol ethers (10 P), Lead compounds (2 C, 37 P),Manganese compounds (3 C, 26 P, 1 F),Mercury compounds (2 C, 33 P, 2 F), Nickel compounds (2 C, 19 P, 1 F),Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (4 C, 50 P, 1 F), Selenium compounds (4 C, 23 P), Acetaldehyde, Acetamide, Acetonitrile, Acetophenone, Acrolein, Acrylamide,Acrylic acid, Acrylonitrile,4-Aminobiphenyl, Aniline, O-Anisidine, M-Anisidine, P-Anisidine, Asbestos, Benzene ,1,3-Butadiene,Carbon monoxide, Carbon disulfide, Carbon tetrachloride, Carbonylsulfide,Chlorine, Chlorobenzene, Chloroethane, Chloroform, Chloromethane, Chloroprene, Cresol, O-Cresol, Cumene, 1,2-Dibromoethane, 1,2Dichloroethane, Dichloromethane, Ethylbenzene, Ethylene glycol, Ethylene oxide, Formaldehyde, Hexachlorobenzene, Hexane, Hydrazine, Hydrogen chloride, Hydrogen fluoride, Methanol, Methyl isobutyl ketone, Methyl isocyanide, Methyl methacrylate, Methyl tert-butyl ether, Naphthalene, 4-Nitroaniline,Nitrogen dioxide, Phenol, Polychlorinated biphenyl, Propionaldehyde, Quinoline, Startups, shutdowns, and malfunctions, Styrene, Sul

fur dioxide, Sulfur trioxide, Tetrachloroethylene, Toluene, 1,1,1-Trichloroethane, Trichloroethylene, Vinyl acetate, Vinyl chloride and Xylene.

In 1997, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set new National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for a form of air pollution known as “fine particles,” or PM2.5 – particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter. I Fine particles can cause serious health effects at relatively low concentrations. Tens of thousands of premature deaths each year are attributed to fine particle air pollution. The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review and update the National Ambient Air Quality Standards every five years in light of new scientific and medical studies. Today’s settlement puts EPA on an enforceable schedule to complete the review of the fine particle standard by December 2005.

Fine particles in the air are made up of a variety of microscopic substances: acid aerosols such as sulfates and nitrates, organic chemicals, metals, and carbon soot. Combustion of fossil fuels is the major source of fine particle emissions into the atmosphere. Fine particles can be emitted directly into the air as smoke from wood stoves or agricultural burning or as soot from the exhaust of diesel trucks, buses and heavy equipment. Fine particles can also be formed from gaseous emissions of sulfur and nitrogen oxides and organic compounds that are transformed in the atmosphere into sulfate, nitrate, and carbonaceous aerosols.

The major sources of these emissions are coal-fired power plants, factories, and cars. Prevailing winds can transport fine particles hundreds of miles in the atmosphere. Fine particles are easily inhaled deep into the lungs where they can remain embedded for long periods of time. Hundreds of community health studies have linked daily increases in fine particle pollution to reduced lung function, greater use of asthma medications, and increased rates of school absenteeism, emergency room visits, hospital admissions, and premature death. In people with heart disease, very short-term exposures of one hour to elevated fine particle concentrations have been linked to irregular heart beats and heart attacks among others. Our citizens in Nigeria deserve such attention.

The elderly Nigerians are at increased risk from fine particle air pollution. Numerous community health studies have shown that when particle levels are high, senior citizens are more likely to be hospitalized for heart and lung problems, and some may die prematurely. Infants and Nigeria children may be especially susceptible to the health effects of fine particle pollution, because their lungs are still developing. Children have greater exposure to air pollution because of their faster breathing rates and the increased amount of time spent playing outdoors. In addition to aggravate wheezing and coughing and reduction in lung function, over the long term, particle air pollution could stunt lung function growth in children. Some studies suggest that pregnant women may be another sensitive group. A limited number of studies report that high particle concentrations are associated with low birth weight in infants, pre-term delivery, and increased risk of infant mortality.

Adverse air quality can kill many organisms including humans. Ozone pollution can cause respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, throat inflammation, chest pain, and congestion. Water pollution causes approximately 14,000 deaths per day, mostly due to contamination of drinking water by untreated sewage in developing countries. An estimated 700 million Indians have no access to a proper toilet, and 1,000 Indian children die of diarrhoeal sickness every day.[26] Nearly 50 million Nigerians lack access to safe drinking water. 66,000 people die prematurely each year in this country because of air pollution. Air pollution is believed to cause 57,700 fatalities a year. Studies have estimated that the number of people killed annually in Africa could be over 50,000.

Oil spills can cause skin irritations and rashes. Noise pollution induces hearing loss, high blood pressure, stress, and sleep disturbance. Mercury has been linked to developmental deficits in children and neurologic symptoms. Older people are more exposed to diseases induced by air pollution. Those with heart or lung disorders are under additional risk. Children and infants are also at serious risk. Lead and other heavy metals have been shown to cause neurological problems. Chemical and radioactive substances can cause cancer and as well as birth defects.

There’s an excess risk of both lung cancer and cardiopulmonary disease associated with increased exposure to fine particles [in air pollution].Cancer cells can break away from a primary tumor, penetrate into lymphatic and blood vessels, circulate through the bloodstream, and grow in a distant focus (metastasize) in normal tissues elsewhere in the body. Many colorectal cancers are thought to arise from adenomatous polyps in the colon. These mushroom-like growths are usually benign, but some may develop into cancer over time. Smoking is clearly the main cause of lung cancer, but breathing much polluted air long term can raise risk of lung cancer as much as breathing second-hand smoke, he added. The effect of polluted air on deaths from heart disease and lung cancer was apparent in lifelong nonsmokers as well as in current and former smokers.

The study found a progressive increase in death rates from cardiopulmonary disease, lung cancer, and all causes of death combined associated with higher levels of particulate air pollution. Fine particulates (smaller than 2.5 microns) and sulfur oxides were the two pollutants most clearly associated with the increases in mortality. The risk of lung cancer death increased by eight percent with every ten micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter of air, and death rates for heart disease and non-neoplastic lung diseases increased by six percent. The impact of these two disease categories was to increase the all-cause death rate by four percent for every such increase in fine particulates. The association between particulate air pollution and increased death rates persisted in Cox proportional hazards analyses adjusted for demographic factors (age, sex, race, education, and marital status) and environmental or lifestyle exposures (smoking, alcohol, occupational dust, and diet).

There is no doubt that cancer is a serious public health problem in Nigeria, and regrettably, its resultant to air pollution and poisonous gas emission. Such experience is similar to that in other African countries which have similar health problems. But whilst the provision of cancer treatment facilities in Nigeria is not being questioned, the long term viability entailed that research has shown that cancer is most prevalent in the low socio-economic class of the society. And these are the same people who cannot afford the cost of basic medical care. Nigeria’s authority like other civilized society should put efforts to locate health services as well as precautionary measure within close proximity of all and sundry.

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1 comment

onome March 29, 2010 - 11:35 am

If we could remain unfriendly to this environment , our surrounding will remain inimical unless something is done to safeguard such unsafe air places.


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