Environment activists, operating under the aegis of the Nigerian ASP Implementation Network (NASPIN), have said that residents of the city are sitting on an environmental time bomb as a result of the large scale pollution of the Lagos Lagoon.
The NASPIN is an independent, non-profit national alliance of voluntary groups, made up of non-governmental organisations and civil societies that are concerned about the devastating effects of harmful chemicals on the people, ecology, biodiversity and the general environment.
According to the group, the concentration of dangerous chemicals in fish, chicken eggs and soils from communities such as Ilaje, Okobaba, Iddo and Apapa around the Lagos Lagoon are considerably high, constituting serious health hazard to residents.
The body disclosed at a recent gathering in Lagos that a significant and persistent level of these chemicals (otherwise referred to as Persistent Organic Pollutants – POPs) exist in water and sediment from the lagoon, following continuous indiscriminate industrial discharge causing pollution of the water ways.
The activists also disclosed that human exposure to POPs as noticed in breast milk of some breastfeeding mothers contain reasonable levels of POPs sufficient for public health concern.
Essentially, POPs are chemical substances that persist in the environment, bio-accumulate through the food web, and pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment. This group of priority pollutants consists of pesticides (such as DDT), industrial chemicals (such as polychlorinated biphenyls, PCBs) and unintentional by-products of industrial processes (such as dioxins and furans).
According to scientists, POPs are transported across international boundaries far from their sources, even to regions where they have never been used or produced. They add that the ecosystems and indigenous people of the Arctic are particularly at risk because of the long-range environmental transportation and bio-magnification of these substances. Consequently, persistent organic pollutants pose a threat to the environment and to human health all over the globe.
At a Dissemination Workshop on the project titled: “Community Action to reduce the Pollution Load of POPs and other PTS into the Lagos Lagoon, Lagos State,” the promoters attempted to publicise details of their findings and also raise awareness among key stakeholders, host community and the public on the persistence and dangers of chemical POPs load in the lagoon particularly and in the Nigerian environment in general.
Funded by the Global Environmental Facility/Small Grants Programme (GEF/SGP), the project is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and executed by United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPs) for NGOs in Nigeria.
Leslie Adogame, the NASPIN National Coordinator, said: “The broad goal of the project is to generate global and national environmental benefits by effective management of POPs in the Lagos Lagoon through engagement with communities and businesses with the aim to determining spatial distribution of POPs concentrations in the water and depositional sediments in relation to key sources, pathways, and loadings to the Lagoon; characterise the Lagoon’s current chemical and eco-toxicological status and use the information as a baseline to evaluate future projections and ecological quality using BAT/BEP and related risk reduction methods.”
According to him, the project has so far: raised awareness, sampled and analysed POPs and metabolites along the three segments of the Lagos lagoon from water and sediments, and strengthened stakeholders’ capacity.