The black soot which has been tormenting the life of Port Harcourt residents and its surrounding communities has finally been traced and arrested. For some weeks now black smoke like particles, air, thick black vapour and black substances took over the atmosphere of Port Harcourt turning its Arial view black, making visibility difficult and breathing hazardous.

The imminent danger to health poised by this dangerous soot forced the Rivers State government to urgently set up a task force to unravel the source and cause of the soot in the city. Fortunately, the cause of the soot was traced to companies that are operating asphalt plants in the town without proper safety measures against human health and pollution of the environment.

The Rivers State government did not hesitate in putting the hammer on the identified companies by stopping their operations and sealing up their premises. Notably among these companies is the Chinese Government Company (CGC) at Aluu, other culprits are H&H Engineering company ltd at Aluu and the AUC Asphalt company also at Aluu.

It is important to note that the emission of the black soot into the atmosphere in Port Harcourt for several weeks portends grave danger to the lives and property of residents in the city. Black soot is made of fine black particles, chiefly composed of carbon produced by incomplete combustion of coal, oil, wood or other fuels. Soot consists of acids, chemicals, metals, soils and dust.

Soot is extremely tiny, less than 2.5 micrometers which is smaller than dust and human hair. It is this micro size of soot and its toxic nature that makes it extremely harmful. The dangerous effect of soot is where it eventually settled. Example If soot is inhale as air, it travels to the lungs and there it causes damage to the respiratory system of the body which can cause or aggravate respiratory illnesses like asthma, bronchitis, cough and catarrh.

Soot can also affect the environment negatively, apart from health hazard. It is established that compounds from soot for example sulfur dioxides and nitrogen oxides mix with moisture to form acid rain which pollute water quality and affects its quality. It also destroys soil and crops and affects the nutrient balances in the ecosystems.

It is therefore commendable that the Rivers State Government has swung into action and nib the evil occurrence in the bud. Information reaching the public is that the directors of the three companies will face prosecution for flaunting both local and international environmental laws.

Perhaps this will serve as a deterrent to other recalcitrant business operators who care less about the health and lives of the people but care more about their profits and turnover.