Port Harcourt toxic soot: Wike engages 30 scientists, assures residents
The source of the noxious soot that has poisoned the air in Port Harcourt has been traced to a Chinese construction company said to be burning asphalt with some substance along Obirikwere-Airport Link Road by unconfirmed reports from worried residents. The soot has become a cause for concern for residents of the city who feared it might have grave health implications as it has blackened the atmosphere and other items in the environment including utensils at home and clothes.
Some residents claimed that several people have been admitted in various hospitals with respiratory ailments. They called on the state government to intervene. The Chinese firm is said to be undertaking some projects for the state government.
But the media specialist to the Governor in charge of New Media, Simeon Nwakaudu, urged residents to go about their business as the government is looking into the matter. According to him, preliminary report has linked the soot to the destruction of illegal refinery in the creeks by the Nigerian Navy.
He said the state government has set up a task force comprising 30 scientists from the Rivers State University and some government officials to investigate the matter, adding that all through today (Friday) the task force and members of the Urban Guard have been combing the city and the creeks in search of clues.
“I can assure you that the Governor is very much concerned and he is doing everything possible to address the situation”, he told Political Economist.
The soot poses grave health risks to the residents who now have to cover their nostrils for most part of the day..
“I started noticing this in November but now it is thick in the air, even inside your house one is not safe. Nobody is talking to us, nobody has explained what this is but we all know it is toxic, an obvious agent of cancer and lung diseases. The relevant authorities should act fast because this is just the making of an epidemic if not halted now”, said Mr. Desmond Thankgod, a resident of Rumuigbo community.
Inhaling the soot according to a medical practitioner can cause illness such as Asthma, Pneumonia, Bronchitis and other dangerous respiratory tract infections
Black soot includes black particles composed by carbon produced by incomplete combustion of coals. Soot can consist of acid, chemicals, or soil and dust and the particles are extremely tiny powder form.
At the moment the soot is visible even in the sky as everywhere looks dull and hazy. People wash their hands regularly but even that has done little to dampen the toxic effect of the substance.
Photo: A hand stained by the toxic soot..