There is an obvious danger posed by the invisible spectrum of light. A palpable environmental vulnerability is triggered off by the greenhouse gasses like carbon II oxide emitted by the ubiquitous fossil fuels and hydrocarbons in Nigerian cities and towns. We are all guilty of using these hydrocarbons daily. The greenhouse gasses they emit have built up layers in the troposphere leading to a backlog of infrared radiation (an invisible electromagnetic wave) and consequently global warming and epileptic weather patterns. Not only that, we use gadgets, solvents and materials that are made of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), and these CFC gasses have risen to the stratosphere and attacked the ozone layer that shields us from the dangerous ultraviolet radiation (another invisible electromagnetic wave) that can cause cataract and skin cancer. One single atom of chlorine can destroy 100 000 molecules of ozone forming chlorine monoxide and oxygen.
However, besides these ecological human-made dangers facing our planet today, I have observed frequent burning of rubber tyres on our streets—with the release of black plumes of smoke rising and spreading across the Nigerian skies. Toxic fumes from motor tyres are poisonous and cause heart disease, lung disease, and leukemia.
Exposures to Carbon Black, Benzene, and Carbon Disulfide endanger our health and cut short the already relatively short life span of Nigerians. Carbon Black is a fine particle produced by incomplete combustion of fossil fuel. Carbon Black can amass in our lungs and lead to chronic bronchitis, inefficient lung functioning, and exacerbation of asthma attacks. Benzene is carcinogenic and thus a potential cause of blood cancer. Carbon Disulfide affects the central nervous system and amplifies the chance of heart disease.
Everything we breathe has an effect on our bodies. Clean oxygen has a positive effect on our bodies and toxic oxygen has a negative effect on our bodies. Nigerian Senators, you have power reverse the danger posed to the public health by ubiquitous burning of tyres in Nigeria. It is a scientific fact that burning tyres release toxins in the air. Other chemicals in tyre that can cause cancer are Styrene and Butadiene. The fumes released from burning of tyres also have high levels of poisonous metals like chromium and lead. Chromium can cause cancer. About twenty different metals released during tyre burning do not disintegrate. One of them, zinc, can cause birth defects. Metals fragments released during tyre burning are too tiny for our naked eyes to see, and these small particles can settle deep in our lungs. Another derivative released in the air from burning of tyres is Dioxin, and this can cause reproductive deficiency and damage. Dioxin can also increase the stake of diabetes in Nigerians.
Additionally, Dioxin contaminates our agricultural crops. The odorless and poisonous gas, Carbon Dioxide (CO), which is also released during tyre burning, has the potential to cause blood poisoning, coma, and ultimate death. Tyre burning is extremely hazardous to adults and children, and the chemicals discharged confer dangerous residues in the air and soil.
Please Senators, use your platform of service to pass a bill that will abrogate the burning of tyres in Nigeria. A fine of 500 000 Naira per burnt tyre should be levied on any person who burns tyres. Yes, the fine should be high because burning of tyres is an offence to the human dignity and environmental rights of the present and future generations of humanity. Environmental parastatals should be charged with the duty of collecting used and depleted tyres from streets and mechanic workshops and intelligently disposing them without causing harm to the environment.
In some Western societies, tyres are recycled by being used for flower pots. Manures are simply poured into them. We could devise other ways of reusing tyres. My supplication to the Nigerian Senators is that, without dilly-dallying, you will pass a law that secures the rights of Nigerians and our children’s children to enjoy cleaner air devoid of Carbon Black, Benzene, Carbon Monoxide, and Styrene, to mention but a few toxins released from tyres. When this is done, then there will be reduced risk of lung disease, blood poisoning, and cancer. When this is done, we will breathe cleaner oxygen. When this is done, we will live under clearer blue skies. The old adage is eternally true: prevention is better than cure! Thank you in advance for taking immediate action.
Rev. Fr. Leo Muoneme, S.J., Ph.D.
Veritas University Abuja