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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(3), 346; doi:10.3390/ijerph13030346

Health Risks Associated with Oil Pollution in the Niger Delta, Nigeria

1
Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
2
Department of Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Ghana, P. O. Box LG 13, Legon, Ghana
3
Department of Community Health, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, University of Uyo, P.M.B. 1017, Uyo, Akwa Ibom, Nigeria
4
Department of Public Health Services, Akwa Ibom Ministry of Health Headquarters, P.M.B. 1030, Uyo, Akwa Ibom, Nigeria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: William A. Toscano
Received: 29 January 2016 / Revised: 28 February 2016 / Accepted: 14 March 2016 / Published: 21 March 2016
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Abstract

Background: Although there is considerable public concern about the environmental impacts of oil pollution in the Niger Delta of Nigeria, actual evidence on the pathological and psychological effects in the health of local communities is minimally known. We sought to associate the perspective measures of exposure to oil pollution with health outcomes (inventory of health symptoms and functional capacity limitations) and determine how emotional reactions to environmental risks moderate these health outcomes. Method: The study was conducted with 600 participants selected from five local government areas in Akwa Ibom State where oil pollution is rampant. A structured questionnaire was used to collect the data on the respondents’ exposure to oil pollution, self-rated health and disease symptoms, perception of risk of exposure and emotional reactions to local oil pollution. Results: Most of the participants lived in areas with visible oil pollution and/or near gas flaring facilities and regularly suffered direct exposure to oil in their environment. High level of emotional distress was a part of everyone's life for the study population. Risk perception in the study area was mediated, to a large extent, by dreaded hazards (catastrophic fears of pipeline explosions and oil spill fire), visual cues (gas flares and smoke stacks) and chemosensory cues (off-flavor in drinking water). The exposure metrics were found to be significant predictors of the health effects and influencing factors (emotional reactions). Multi-levels models suggest that at the individual level, the demographic variables and direct contact with oil pollution were important mediators of functional capacity limitation. At the community level, emotional distress from fear of the sources of exposure was an important mediator of the health symptoms. Conclusions: This study documents high levels of disease symptoms and environmental distress (worry, annoyance and intolerance) associated with oil pollution in the Niger Delta areas of Nigeria. It highlights the need for some intervention to ameliorate the psychological distress associated with living under such environmental adversity. View Full-Text
Keywords: environmental worry; environmental hazard annoyance; risk perception; risk tolerance; functional capacity limitation; health symptoms index; rumination; chronic stress environmental worry; environmental hazard annoyance; risk perception; risk tolerance; functional capacity limitation; health symptoms index; rumination; chronic stress
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Nriagu, J.; Udofia, E.A.; Ekong, I.; Ebuk, G. Health Risks Associated with Oil Pollution in the Niger Delta, Nigeria. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13, 346.

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