Fear grips Lagos residents over acid rain
fear gripped many residents of Lagos on Sunday over a text message warning people against an acid rain between March 20 and 28..
According to the text message, "There is a possibility of acid rain. The dark circle appeared around the moon on March 17 and this was an indication of an acid rain.
"Apparently, this happens once in 750 years. It rains like normal rain, but it may cause skin cancer if you expose yourself to it."
Residents, who received the text message forwarded it to their friends and family members. They advised them to stay indoors whenever it rained on any of the days mentioned in the SMS.
A resident of Yaba, Fidelis Okon, who said that he had received the text message, said that he would not go to work anytime it rained during the week.
According to http://library.thinkquest.org, "The primary causes of acid rain are sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. These chemicals are released by certain industrial processes, and as a result, the more industrialised nations of Europe as well as the United States suffer severely from acid rain."
The online publication, however, stated that sulfur dioxide came from power plants that use it as fuel. It added, "These plants emit 100 million tons of sulfur dioxide. There is 70 per cent of that in the world.
"Automobiles produce about half of the world's nitrogen oxide. As the number of automobiles in use increases, so does the amount of acid rain. Power plants that burn fossil fuels also contribute significantly to nitrogen oxide emission."
It also listed fire, volcanic eruptions, bacterial decomposition as natural causes of acid rain.
When contacted, the Coordinator of the Federal Ministry of Health's Cancer Control Programme, Dr. Patience Osinubi, said that acid rain had not been listed as one of the causes of skin cancer.
She said, "I need more scientific information. I am, however, of the opinion that it may be a slight lowering of the PH (acidity) of atmospheric vapour that is referred to as acid rain. I must tell you that acid rain has never been listed as an etiology for skin cancer."
The United States Environmental Protection Agency explained the health implications of the rain. It said, "Acid rain looks, feels, and tastes just like clean rain. The harm to people from acid rain is not direct. Walking in acid rain, or even swimming in an acid lake, is no more dangerous than walking or swimming in clean water.
In another report:
A Meteorologist has said the hazy weather currently observed around Lagos and some South-western states in the last few days is due to an unusual dust storm from the Sahara desert.
This haziness observed since Saturday, has led to the cancellation of several flights and could also lead to a rise in upper respiratory disease such as catarrh, cold and flu. The meteorologists advised people not to panic as it was normal for such to occur.
The hazy weather stemmed from a mixture of the dust haze blowing from the Sahara Desert through the north eastern part of Nigeria to Lagos and other south western states, explained Modupe Ogunwale, director of Research and Training at the Nigerian Meteorological Agency.
Climate change is here
Coincidentally, the rain which occurred on Friday (March 19) trapped the dust particles, thus causing the humidity, she said.
“This is unusual because this kind of dust storms usually occur around November/December; for it to occur in March means it is part of the climate change we are talking about.” She however said the situation may remain for a couple of more days as another dust storm was recorded in the Sahara on Sunday.
John Babatunde, a medical doctor advised residents to wear clothes that are warm as respiratory diseases are bound to be common at this time. He, especially advised parents to ensure that their wards are well dressed and covered up to prevent flu attacks.
Already Lagosians have been worried about the changing weather and especially about a phenomenon called acid rain. To this effect a text message has been circulating round town that there may be an acid rain between 20-28 March and that people should beware as the rain may cause skin cancer.
Mrs. Ogunwale, however, dispels this fear. “It is not acid rain. It is because of this dust haze that we are having this kind of rain. It is not pure rain because it traps a lot of dust particles and since people collect rain water for drinking and other uses, they are advised not to drink or use this kind of rain.” The United States Environmental Protection Agency, says acid rain occurs when gases such as sulphuric acid and nitric acid react in the atmosphere with water, oxygen, and other chemicals to form various acidic compounds.
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