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Black soot is unsuitable for mankind!

Written by Ella Chikezie.

 

Alarmed, I looked around hoping to trace where the fragment of what I assumed to be ash from a burning bush or material came from but alas, there was no fire around!

This same scenario continued for days, and at some point, I noticed a smudge of black stain under my feet when I showered, and several hours even after I had showered, and worn a shoe all day! At this point, I was clueless as to what was happening as I made silent observations. Some days later, in the confines of my room, I was discussing with a friend when she mentioned black soot.

Over the past few months, an ominous phenomenon has been in wide occurrence in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria. A film of odourless, black particle, not so visible to the naked eyes have enveloped the city, what many refer to as "black soot" and what according to scientific research is actually "carbon black" or "carbon soot."

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Inquisitively I asked what that meant, and in her own words, she explained that it was an environmental hazard that was prevalent in Rivers State, Nigeria for sometime. My eyes grew wide as I finally fixed the puzzle. Aha! That was the cause of those particles I had noticed earlier.

Still not satisfied with the answers I got, I took my phone and Googled "black soot" and that was all I needed to understand the urgency of the situation and write this article.

According to Google search definition for black carbon or carbon black, these are components of pure carbon formed by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, bio fuels or biomass and emitted in both anthropogenic and naturally occurring soot.

Soot is a mass of impure carbon particles resulting from the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbon. Soot in the atmosphere can cause cancer, and lung disease and is the second biggest human cause of global warming.

Presently in Nigeria, and Rivers State precisely, black carbon emissions are prevalent, especially in areas where refineries and industrial activities are carried out. According to reliable sources, the government is doing little or nothing to tackle this environmental hazard, which is health endangering and ultimately life threatening to us all.

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Dear government officials, policy makers, environmental right activists, and fellow Nigerians, this is an open letter to plead with everyone to address this issue. As every one of us has a role to play in it.

To the government, I appeal to you to do something to curb this man-made disaster. I do this, knowing that black soot is an environmental issue caused by human industrial activity as it is prevalent in Trans Amadi, and oil mill areas of Rivers State, Nigeria. Hence, it can be tackled by taking appropriate measures on those involved in illegal refining of petroleum products, biofuels, etc., and those involved in unsafe environmental activities.

To the environmental rights activists, please do more to ensure that the right actions are taken to eradicate this environmental issue, and that the masses are educated on environmental responsibility.

To every Nigerian, we are all subsets of our ecosystem and environment, that means we are what we put into our environment, it is our actions that control the environment, hence the importance for us to take responsibility for our environment, and join hands in fighting every form of environmental hazards, let us learn to dispose waste properly, let us practice recycling acts and desist from every form of burning.

Our health is at risk, so let us ensure that we protect our environment. Together we all can build a safer and healthier environment.

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Ella Chikezie is a Nigerian writer, filmmaker and creative entrepreneur. She’s a final year biochemistry student at the University of Port Harcourt, she resides in Lagos with her family and hopes to make a difference in the world through writing.

For more thought-provoking articles from her, you can visit her personal blog at www.ellawritesng.wordpress.com or connect with her on Instagram and Twitter @ellachikezie or @flygrademedia

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