There is growing outcry and understandable anxiety in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, over increasing presence of black soot, resulting in poor air quality. Last week, the government expressed concern about the situation and linked the soot to the activities of illegal oil refineries, bunkers and burning of tyres. Critical stakeholders should be concerned about this lingering problem that has become a serious public health issue. Doctors in Port Harcourt have already confirmed an increase in the number of people with breathing difficulty, according to reports.

Since the last quarter of 2016, the black soot has become an environmental issue for residents of Port Harcourt. Scientists have determined that the soot particles are extremely small and stay in the air for months, stinging the eyes and causing irritation to the nose and throat.

Though the condition is not as bad as it was in the air in 2016, the Particulate Matter 2.5 and 10 (PM2.5 and PM10) in the city is at dangerous levels which is extremely harmful to humans especially children, older citizens and people with underlying illness and breathing challenges.

What Is Soot?

Soot is made of tiny carbon particles created by incomplete combustion of fossil fuels (wood, oil, coal, and more). It contains acids, chemicals, metals, soils, and dust. These particles leave an ugly sight and foul smell. Soot occurs whenever something is burning, such as a bush, a house, or even when you cook with a kerosene stove or firewood. It is that black cloud you see that rises over the fire. 

During a fire, soot spreads to the whole house, attaching to surfaces. Thus, the acidic properties of soot can further affect the property and indoor air quality if the soot is not removed immediately using an Air Purifier. Soot can inhabit the home even if there wasn’t a fire. For example, excessive use of candles can lead to soot buildup. Thus, property owners should use them sparingly. 

In our next publication we will discuss the effect on our health, what you can do to protect your self and your environment.

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