The Executive Chairman of Eleme Local Government Council in Rivers State, Nigeria, Hon. (Barr.) Philip Okparaji has condemned the burning of hundreds of thousands of tires at a Chipping Company along Eleme East West Road, calling it an abuse of health standards. According to him, the health of the people of Eleme which is already endangered is further threatened with such act.

The Chairman who immediately rushed down to the scene of the event when he got to know about the act immediately called the State Ministry of Environment and other relevant authorities to formally lay the report.

He called the attention of the Company’s management but they denied being responsible for the burning. He summoned them to a meeting for further investigation maintaining that necessary action will be taken to serve as a deterrent to others.

Recall that in the last two years or thereabouts, a strange phenomenon known as black soot was noticed by residents of Port Harcourt and its surroundings.

Environmentalists have attributed some causes of the toxic smog to burning of tyres for scrap copper and activities of illegal bunkering and oil refineries set up in the bush for conversion of stolen crude into petrol and diesel.

Environmental and Health Hazards associated with Soot include the common effects of air pollution which include irritation to the eyes, nose and throat and its devastating impact has been associated with upper respiratory infections such as asthma, pneumonia, coronary heart disease, bronchitis, heart disease and some other respiratory illnesses.

The burning of old tyres has been a major occurrence and highly disturbing sight particularly in Port Harcourt city, as thick black clouds can be seen billowing in dark bloated fumes across the skyline, casting an ominous humid pall over large parts of the city as the toxic fog is dissipated with the wind.

Black Soot particularly has a severe level of toxicity and is capable of causing cancer which may lead to premature death, as research has also shown that many premature deaths are directly related to soot in the environment, which is not only detrimental to human health as they take part in gas exchange during each breath, but has also been found to contain sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide and can result in acid rain when combined with moisture.

The poisonous emission of the black soot has continued to pose a major threat and health hazard, especially to residents of the capital city of Port Harcourt as well as surrounding cities and local government areas including Eleme LGA and this prompt and commendable action by the Council Chairman, Hon. Philip Okparaji, is not only a welcomed development in the collective effort to address this particular cause of the problem, but also a clarion call to pragmatic action instead of lip service, for other helmsmen of the black soot endangered areas in Rivers state.