ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION: A THREAT TO HEALTH

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World Environment Day (WED) is observed on June 5 every year, and is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of the environment. In Nigeria, a recent environmental problem that has been a cause for concern is that of so many dead fishes littering the Atlantic coastline of Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom States.

According to investigation, the deaths were caused by the discharge of toxic waste into the ocean. However, news from Bonny Island in Rivers State reveal that mysterious deaths have occurred in that area of recent. Whether these deaths are as a result of consumption of the dead fish or not is yet to be ascertained. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has ruled out Covid-19 as the source of deaths. The Bonny Development Forum (BDF) said the symptoms were gas-related.

Environmental Pollution is one of the most significant challenges that the world is facing today. It is the act of contaminating or polluting (either intentionally or accidentally) the natural
environment with harmful substances, as a consequence of human activities. There are various types of pollution which affect our lives on a daily basis. The major types include: air pollution, water pollution, and land (soil) pollution. Others include: noise pollution, light
pollution, plastic pollution, radioactive/nuclear pollution, thermal pollution, and marine/ocean pollution.

Apart from this issue of dead fishes littering the coastline, other contributors to the issue of water pollution in Nigeria include the increased use of non-degradable material and especially the use and improper disposal of plastic. Plastic materials
such as carry bags, plastic straw, bottles, etc., are choking our drains and harming marine and aquatic life.
Human activities are the main source of water pollution. The most polluting type include discharging of industrial waste into water
bodies such as lakes and rivers. The harmful chemicals and toxic waste, without being treated, are directly discharged into water
bodies. Another source of water pollution is the mixing of untreated sewage with rivers. Polluted and contaminated water from houses is not
treated and rather made to enter the water bodies. Yet another example of water pollution is the mixing up of high temperature (hot) water
discharge into water bodies at normal temperature. The sudden change and rise in temperature also has a negative impact on aquatic life. Acid rain is also regarded as one of the causes of water pollution.

Air pollution is another major type of environmental pollution. It is the pollution of air by smoke and dangerous gases, chiefly oxides of carbon, sulfur, and nitrogen. Out of the various types of pollution, air pollution is the major
contributor to global warming.

Soil pollution – industrial activity, agricultural activities, waste disposal, accidental oil spills, acid rain, etc., are the main reasons for soil pollution.
Noise pollution is disturbing or extreme noise that can harm the activity or balance of human as well as animal life.

In view of all the foregoing, what can we do about environmental pollution? It is good for us to note, first of all, that pollution is as a result of a wrong attitude – a reluctance to exercise “the law of neighbour love.” So, in reality, pollution is a problem of the individual – a problem of his heart and his mind. It is the result of a mind polluted with false values and possible ignorance, and a heart polluted with selfishness, thoughtlessness and general unconcern about the welfare of others.

Everyone can discipline himself to put trash where it belongs. Parents should teach their children to value high standards of cleanliness.
Also, driving less can cut down on air pollution. Industries and manufacturing companies should
ensure that they do not contribute to air, land, noise and water pollution, by their processes.

Daniel Ighakpe, FESTAC Town, Lagos