The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), government agencies and stakeholders have decried human activities that contribute to poor air quality across the country.
They condemned this act on Friday, September 2, 2022, at the close of the international conference organised by Centre for Atmospheric Research, an activity centre of NASRDA, in collaboration with Osun State University and Penn State University, USA.
The conference which lasted from Monday to Friday focused on COVID-19, Air Quality and Environment, with the theme “Fighting Pollution: A Silent Threat to our Existence.’’
Prof. Babatunde Rabiu, Director, Centre for Atmospheric Research, said the centre in the past few years had sited air quality sensors across different locations of the country.
Rabiu said that the sensors were primarily to aid research on air quality which should improve a habitable environment for humans.
The director said that the centre has several air monitors across the country.
“We have nine clarity devices and 27 Purple Air sensors connected to us asides those connected to other individuals across the country,” he said.
Prof. Israel Oyewole, Provost, College of Science and Engineering, Osun State University, drew the attention of agencies and the government to air pollution, as well as the need to address issues on bush burning.
Oyewole called for improvement on the regulation of industry activities, as well as emissions into the environment.
“If we don’t control pollution, we are at a dangerous situation that will be affecting us,” he said.
Mr Chukwunweizu Maike, Osun State Coordinator, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), said that the agency has up to 34 regulations.
Maike said the regulations include those on air pollution, vehicular emission, ozone layer, surface and ground water pollution, among others.
He further said that the agency in the state was ensuring compliance, monitoring of facilities, mining, base metal facilities and sanitation activities.
“We arrange mediation meetings to address community crisis and currently, we have an issue of mining that almost led to the cancellation of the annual Osun Osogbo festival in August.
“Mining in Osun was getting higher and we are currently investigating ground and surface water pollution, particularly where we have the mining companies in Ilesha and Ile-Ife axis.
“Once we are done with the investigation, some of these companies may be sealed or will be made to face the right penalty,’’ Maike said.
Mrs Olumide Olaniyan, a Deputy General Manager, Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), said the agency was proposing to establish more stations across the country to further monitor air quality.
Olaniyan said that continuous pollution of the environment causes climate change, while it affects the health of humans.
She recalled that, according to the World Meteorological Organisation, Nigeria was ranked one of the worst polluted countries in Africa.
“Polluting the atmosphere causes global warming and this causes increase in temperature that will lead to evaporation, hence intense floods.
“Pollution is serious, we need to do something about it and the Sustainable Development Goals have given the mandate for zero emission by 2030 and I don’t think we are close to that,’’ Olaniyan said.
She urged that policy makers should be sterner in establishing policies that promote clean air.
Prof. Fuwape Ibiyinka, Vice-Chancellor, Michael and Cecilia Ibru University, said, ”As individuals, we need to cultivate better habits that promote clean air and environment.
”How can we reduce indoor, outdoor pollution, either as a nation or individuals, as agencies, institutions?
“We need to start taking care of our environment, whatever we do to our environment pollutes our lives collectively, whether soil, water or even air, it is a cycle.
“As individuals, we have the responsibility to ensure that we take care of our environment, because ,if we default, the environment will react.’’
According to her, rural people still use firewood, adding, ”There is need to develop renewable stoves, solar operated stoves, we should not just complain, but provide alternatives that are cheap.
“We also need to educate people on the dos and don’t, as well as the need to engage the Ministry of Health so they can carry it as a health issue for a collaborative effort towards better health.’’
Dr Gabriel Fawole, from School of the Environment, University of Portmouth, UK, recommended for wastes to be buried in place of burning them and recycling of wastes.
Fawole said that in the developed world, some human activities like travelling on air for short trips, driving some distance were regulated to avoid emissions that come from those means of transportation.
He also said, ”Everyone needs to control his indoor pollution,” adding that 10 to 20 per cent of air pollution generated outdoor affect the indoors.
“If the environment is dusty, keep your windows shut, because when these pollutants come in, they don’t go out and when you generate pollution indoors, they don’t go out easily.’’
There were series of technical sessions that took place at the conference, all suggesting ways government, institutions and individuals can contribute towards a healthy and better environment.
By Ijeoma Olorunfemi