As the United Nations (UN) mark the World Environment Day (WED) today, civil society and conservation groups have called on the federal government to find lasting solution to air pollution in Nigeria, especially in the Niger Delta.
The pollution, majorly caused by the extractive industry in the region, has led to various environmental challenges and health problems, they added.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO) data released recently, Nigeria has four of the most polluted cities in the world by air. Onitsha is labelled the world’s most polluted city for air quality. Kaduna came fifth, Aba sixth and Umuahia 16th.
Also, the recently published Global Environmental Outlook confirmed that both outdoor and indoor air quality are deteriorating rapidly in many areas due to various factors such as the use of firewood and other biomass as sources of energy, increasing traffic volumes, importation of old vehicles, and increased use of the two-stroke engine motorcycles as alternative means of transport in both urban and rural areas.
Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) noted that “air pollution is caused by various factors with a large contribution from extractive activities, especially through gas flares, burning of crude oil by illegal refiners and the burning of illegal refineries by security operatives.
“Other sources include open burning of solid wastes, decrepit automobiles, electricity generators, industries, dusts from cement factories and soot from the use of inefficient cooking stoves paired with solid fuels,” said the director of HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey.
Regretting that air quality standards were not monitored, he decried the persistence of soot in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and Ekpan in Delta State, while nothing had been done to halt the menace or even to warn the citizens of the danger they were exposed to.