Black soot in Rivers State: Inhabitants at the Risk of Lungs infections


There is a continuous outcry about black soot  in the southeastern city of Rivers state. It’s been ongoing for a while now, it became really visible since 2016 and it has gotten worse and nothing has been done about it in Rivers state. The point is, if the government keep overlooking and ignoring this, we may get to the point where we start losing people due to negligence. The black soot is really unhealthy and risky and we can’t be quiet at a time like this. 

I have heard friends and family members complain about black soot in Rivers state. I didn’t really understand how bad this was or has gotten when I was in Port harcourt, even though I have just witnessed a little of it, I got used to closing my doors and windows and I didn’t get to spend time outside my own space.

However, the dilemma of black soot was something that never left my friend’s lips till he left port harcourt, waking up in your room and your cottons filled with something that looks like our local charcoal, getting to dust your room and clean it like twice or even thrice a day, the discomfort that comes with placing your hands on things only to find black dust on your palms.  The fact that you can’t even walk barefooted in your own home because of the black soot.

Black dust can be found on furniture, fans, rails, stairs, bedding, sinks, plants, food, clothes, black soot can also be seen in your heater or air conditioner and we get to breathe in this dangerous substance as a result of the illegal burning of harmful substances in Port harcourt. 

The soot has been persistent in Rivers state environs and is assumed to be from illegal refining around Port Harcourt City, Mr Peter Idabor, Director General of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), in an interview in Port Harcourt said that the black soot is as a result of abattoirs burning tyres, heating of asphalt and also the burning of stolen petroleum products by security agencies.

If we have identified this to be the reason for blank soot in Port harcourt, why then is the government of Rivers state quiet about this? Why hasn’t the federal government said anything about this? Are the lives of the people in Port harcourt not important? Are they just going to pretend that it is not their responsibility as leaders to ensure the safety of the populace? 

Why do we have to beg for everything in Nigeria? The health implications of this is enormous, why can’t our leaders see this? Are they waiting for the time when the people in Rivers state would start dying like chickens or the point where we no longer have a state called Rivers state? 

Inhaling carbon black soot can be irritating to the lungs and  may warrant excessive coughing or make one nauseous, cause a sore throat and gradually trigger issues for the lungs. Carbon black can also irritate the eyes so when the citizens are exposed to high levels of carbon black for a long time, the particles may lodge deep in their lungs and damage the lungs which may lead to death. 

We have been exposed to this for a long time and it has gotten so bad, my experience in Buguma, a community in Rivers state got me really scared for the people who wake up to this soot everyday in Port harcourt. 

Imagine wearing a mask in an event the whole time and just when I removed my mask to talk to a friend because the music was so loud and she struggled to hear me, she screamed and said “oh my God, the same thing has happened to her” she was obviously referring to another friend who witnessed her own experience with the soot. 

I was afraid and confused and asked her what the problem was but  she said please wipe your nose gave me some tissue papers to wipe my nose with and when I did, I couldn’t believe what I saw and what I have been breathing the whole time even with my mask on, at that moment I was terrified and I couldn’t even imagine what my family, friends and people who are based here are going through, I have only been away for some months but that substance in my nose wasn’t good at all. It got me really agitated. 

We can gradually put an end to this as a people, yes the government has a role to play by regulating policies and stopping the illegal burning of harmful substances but we as the people of the Rivers state or who live in the state should avoid the burning of those substances for our own good. 

I hear a lot of people talk about going green but how do we do this? Our climate isn’t safe and our natural habitats too, Black soot is an environmental problem that has negative implications for both human health and our climate. People should understand this and how inhaling this substance could bring up health problems including respiratory and cardiovascular disease, cancer, and even birth defects. We have to decide what we want as a people, we have to save Rivers state, we have to put our sustainable development goals in mind. 


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