Air pollution is a growing cause of morbidity and mortality globally. Nigeria is confronted with rising air pollution concerns due to activities of extractives, industrialisation and high population growth rate. Many areas of Rivers State, which provide 60% of Nigeria’s crude oil output, have recently been experiencing visible fallout of soot. To assess the perception of residents of Rivers State on the current soot pollution, a cross-sectional study was undertaken via an online survey among people residing in the state who were literate and had access to internet-enabled devices. Results indicated that most respondents (81.5%) were aware of the soot pollution and perceived the main causes of soot to be from artisanal refining of crude oil (87.8%) and burning of confiscated crude oil and its products (76.5%). Majority also perceived that the soot had caused them chronic cough (69.9%) and irritation to eyes, nose and throat (64.2%). Female respondents were significantly more likely (AOR=1.38 CI = 1.02, 1.86) to complain of a health effect from soot pollution. There is a critical need to investigate identified sources of soot and mitigate possible impact. Public health campaigns should be launched for adequate risk communication on the adverse effects of soot, with attention given to gender-sensitive messages. Relevant authorities should develop stringent policies to prevent soot pollution and improve access to appropriate services to address the health effects.
Key words: Air pollution, soot, health effects, chronic cough, artisanal refining.
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