Health Impact of Gas Flares on Igwuruta / Umuechem Communities in Rivers State|
Gobo, A. E.; Richard, G. & Ubong, I. U.
This paper examined the relationship between human exposure to toxicological factors in the environment arising from gas flares and the development of various human health related conditions. The impact of environmental factors was investigated at four stations set up concentrically around Agbada II flow station, for a period of nine months (May, 2007 – January, 2008) and sampling was performed manually across the four stations on an hourly basis. The analytical program was done in line with WMO recommendations. Parameters investigated include particulates and gases. Mean particulate concentrations in rainy season across all sites ranged from 0.4 ± 0.4µg/m3 in June to 25 ± 5.4µg/m3 in May. Concentration levels of particulates were excessive in the months of December and January, exceeding allowable regulatory limits for TSP, PM10 and PM7 across all stations. Mean concentration levels of gases in both wet and dry seasons were within allowable regulatory limits. Analysis of medical records showed a greater frequency of disease types such as Asthma, Cough, breathing difficulty, eye/skin irritation in (Igwuruta/Umuechem), the study area with a long history of gas flaring compared to Ayama with no flaring history. These subset of diseases accounted for 22.4% and 5.9% (a 4 to 1 ratio) of all cases reported at the respective health centers. The high level of particulates in the dry season constitutes a greater short-term exposure risk to residents and workers with the particular risk of respiratory irritation, itching/eye irritation and cough being endemic in the area surrounding the flare. @ JASEM