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Acid Rain Charade: 7 years after

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March 2010 went down memory lane as the month rumours of Acid rain were spread all over Nigeria. Many were misguided about Acid rain. Some said that a particular rain will fall in that month which falls once in 750 years, and it is carcinogenic. Is it really true that a particular Acid rain falls on earth once in 750 years? Science Writer, STANLEY CHIBUIHEM AMALAHA takes a look at this Acid rain brouhaha

PROLEGOMENON

Seven years ago (March 2010) to be precise, Nigerians were traumatised over ‘ACID RAIN’. Sadly they were misguided about the phenomenon because of indequate scientific knowledge and sensitization

CHARADE 1

“Hey, Mary! Please don’t enter rain when it is falling because there is an acid rain that will fall this month, it will cause skin cancer when it touches you. Please Mary, make sure you stay indoors throughout this period: These were the words of Miss Lynda Anthony, who resides in Apapa, Lagos, to her beloved sister, Miss Mary Anthony. This advice was for all ages not for Mary alone. It was rumoured that a particular rain that will fall in the month of March (2010) will be acidic in nature and highly carcinogenic.

CHARADE 2

Miss Judith Emeh, who was at the University of Benin, presently serving at Ekiti State Nigeria, by then, was not left out, as she received series of text messages in her mobile phone not to allow any rain in that month to touch her skin because it is ‘acid’ Some of the text messages were quite simple and short.

“Judith please don’t enter rain within this period of March.” Another text from her brother said, adding: “Judith, there is a rain which falls once in 750 years, which will fall within this period, please stay indoors so that it will not touch you because it is harmful to the body!” Her brother Mr. Obiora Emeh, who resides in Kaduna Nigeria, was so caring and was sending the text over and over again to her sister, Judith. He also sent the messages not only to his sister, but to all his friends and relatives.

RUMOUR

Mary Anthony said that she was advised to stay off the rain. That even if she is in the market place or in the church, or anywhere at all, she should not allow the rain to touch her. She also received series of text messages. Indeed, the rumour was spreading like wild fire during harmattan says Miss Lynda Anthony. People were backing their claims from meteorological centre of unknown destination. However, some said the centre was from Abuja while others claimed it was from USA. There were different views from different people about acid rain.

The question now is: was it true that March 2010 really experienced a particular acid rain that was carcinogenic to the human body? Let’s look at the evidence.

ACID RAIN FORMATION

There are two major unhealthy compounds produced by burning of fossil fuels. These are oxides of sulphur and nitrogen. When these oxides combine with water in the atmosphere, they form acids. These acids fall on the ground as acid rain the truth in the matter is that most of the early rains that fall at the beginning of the year, contain some percentages of acidity. Natural rain is slightly acidic because it reacts with CO2 in the air to form carbonic acid. H2O + CO2 H2CO3

MEASUREMENT/PH SCALE

Natural rain water has a PH. of about 5.6 which is slightly acidic but not harmful. The PH scale is a scale ranging from 0 to 14 used to classify acidity and basicity of solutions. PH value of 0,1,2 and 3, are more acidic than those with PH values of 4,5, and 6. Acidic values range from 0 to 6. The lower the number, the higher the acidity.

A PH value of 7 is neutral, while PH values from 8 to 14 signify basicity. However, the acidity of natural rain water differs slightly in different parts of the world e.g. in Central Europe, the PH is about 4.1 while in Ireland and Portugal, it is about 4.9. Acid rain which is becoming a global phenomenon has a PH below 5.0. It is primarily caused by oxides of sulphur and nitrogen namely: Sox and NOx respectively which are acidic, corrosive and poisonous.

People living in highly industrialized areas where cement companies and other related companies are located, are likely to experience rain with higher percentage of acidity than those living away from these companies if other factors like carbon emissions from cars are equal. When sulphur containing coal is burnt, it gives of SO2. Similarly, when combustion of fuels occur at high temperatures, oxides of Nitrogen (e.g. NO2) are produced, when rain falls, these gases dissolve in rain water and produce acids known as “acid rain” as shown in the equation below.

REACTION MECHANISM

NO + O3          —>      NO2+O2

NO2 + 2O2      —>      NO3+O3

NO2 + NO3      —>     N2O5

N2O5 + H2O    —>    2HNO3

(ACID RAIN)

Nitrogen oxides from automobile exhaust combine with moisture in air to make dilute solutions of nitric acid as shown in the earlier equations. On the other hand, when coal burns from cement producing companies, the sulphur it contains, combines with oxygen in the atmosphere and acid rain is formed as shown below:

S+ O2(g) SO2(g)

From burning coal containing sulphur

2SO2(g) + O2 (g) 2SO3(g)

Converting to sulphur trioxide

SO3(g) + H2O (I) H2SO4(aq)

Dissolving sulphur trioxide to form sulphuric acid.

EARLY YEAR RAIN FALL

Generally most rain that fall early in the year have some percentages of acidity which are not harmful.

However, over exposure to rain tarnishes and corrodes our statues, and monuments.

A typical example is the corrosion of the famous statue of Liberty in the city of New York which was refurbished few years ago. Science Telegraph recalled how he collected a sample of the rain by then and tested it in the laboratory and found that the rain was a normal rain.

This led him to different television stations include: NTA Victoria Island Lagos; Silverbird Television Ajah Lagos; Television Continental Ikeja, Lagos; and Super Screen Television Jibowu Lagos to enlighten Nigerians on Acid rain. The truth in the matter is that there is no particular acid rain that falls once in 750 years.

The ‘acid rain’ of March 2010 was indeed a charade.

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Science

Residents to IGP: We’re no longer safe in Abuja

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In recent months, the Federal Capital Territory has witnessed an upsurge in crime, a situation that has attracted the attention of the security agencies. EMMANUEL ONANI reports

The Nigeria Police is the lead agency in crime fighting and prevention. As a matter of fact, the Police’s vision had been: “To make Nigeria safer and more secure for economic development and growth; to create a safe and secure environment for everyone living in Nigeria”.

How much of this vision has been cascaded to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command, within the context of fighting crime and criminality within and around the city?

A cross section of residents of the FCT, who spoke with Inside Abuja, showed “loss of confidence” in the crime-fighting capacity of the Police, in the face of prevailing realities.

In separate encounters, the consensus was that: criminal elements in the mould of armed robbers, car-snatchers, ‘one chance’, ritualists among other violent characters, now violate the city’s otherwise impregnable sanctity with audacious impunity.

The case of two female lawyers

Two female lawyers were the first to tell their distasteful tales of woes occasioned by the state of insecurity in the FCT.

Barrister Paulyn (surname withheld) said: “I was done for the day and since I didn’t drive, I stopped at Area 11 junction (by Total Filling Station), to board a vehicle to Masaka.

“About twenty minutes after, a Golf car with just a male occupant pulled over, with echo of ‘Masaka Masaka’.

“I boarded, and shortly after take-off, the supposed ‘passenger’ brought out a knife that shone like a spotless glass, and threatened to kill me if I dared to scream.

“Throughout the period they drove me to their den, there was no single policeman on the road, at least to boost my courage, to scream for help.

“My brother, I was lucky that they only took my expensive phone and all the cash I had in my bag.”

Another female lawyer, who gave her name simply as Beauty, narrated her ordeal thus: “I had a matter at Zone 2 Magistrate Court last week and like other learned colleagues, I parked my car around the court’s vicinity and went in.

“Within a space of an hour, I got back to find that my handbag, which I had hidden in the car, had been stolen with other valuable items.

“Please, help tell the police to wake up to the sorry state of security in Abuja.”

How we got robbed around minister’s hill (Anonymous):

Another victim of armed robbery, who chose to remain anonymous for fear of the unknown, said: “We were returning home through the single end of the Kubwa – Abuja expressway, when our car showed a sign of malfunction.

“We stopped to check and like a bolt from the blue, some thieves numbering about four, emerged from one of the known forests there, and dispossessed us of all valuable items. We were lucky to return home alive.”

Inside Abuja was told how a man, who parked his car within the Diamond area (Wuse 11), returned to find, that “his car had been burgled, and an i-pad and other items stolen.

The reports are endless! Another ugly story was told of how a couple riding in a sports utility vehicle (SUV) to Games Village, had the side glass shattered with a metal, while waiting to be passed at the traffic light junction.

Just when you thought it was abating, came this one from CITEC Estate, where a resident complained of an attack on his way back home.

“My brother, these boys hit and collected everything I had on me without help from any policeman”, a visibly angry victim said.

Hear another victim: “I parked my car about 300 metres away from Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Maitama.

“Guess what I saw barely 30 minutes after? They had taken down the glass of my car, and bolted with my laptop and other expensive items.”

About a week ago, the Commissioner of Police in charge of the Command, Mr. Sadiq Bello, had made public the discovery of an illegal arms factory somewhere in Zuba.

In the face of the growing disruptions, however, the Police had sued for collaboration, with a view to fighting crimes, especially incidents of car theft.

“As a result of the seeming rise in cases of theft of motor vehicles within FCT, especially the ones that are easily removed from where parked, the FCT Police Command is poised to take necessary action to stem the tide of the menace.

“The Command is going to embark on vigorous stop and search along the highways as such members of the public are hereby advised to always have proof of ownership of their cars in their possession to avoid embarrassment”, the Command had said in a statement.

In the wake of the discovery of the illegal arms factory, the CP had, while addressing some journalists, said: “Following intelligence and discreet Police investigation, operatives of the Command have uncovered an illegal firearm fabricating factory located around Shenagu village near Zuba.

“During a raid on the factory, three suspects were arrested. They  include the owner of the factory, Philip John, the supplier of ammunitions, Mr Onyegabueze Okpara and the distributor of the arms, one Joseph Bulus”.

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Unn pharmacy building for commissioning

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The new three-storey building of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, will be commissioned soon. Science writer, STANLEY CHIBUIHEM AMALAHA, in an interview with Prof. Godswill C. Onunkwo, Dean of the Faculty, reports

All is set for the commissioning of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences’s new three-storey building at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

The building, built by TETFUND, will accommodate seven department s of the faculty: According to Prof. Godswill C. Onukwo, Dean of the faculty, “The Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences started in 1967 as the Department of Pharmacy in the Faculty of Science. Because of the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970) ,the department did not function actively until 1970.

It was elevated to the status of faculty in 1980, originally with four departments.

At present, the faculty has seven departments namely: Pharmaceutics with Dr. Paul Akpa as the Head; Microbiology/Biotechnology, with Prof. Emma Ibezim as the Head; Pharmaceutical Technology & Industrial Pharmacy, with Prof. Sabinus Ofoefule as the Head.

Others include ; Pharmaceutical Chemistry, headed by Prof. Mrs. Ngozi Nwodo; Pharmacology & Toxicology, by Dr. Mrs. Adaobi Ezike; Pharmacognosy, Prof. Mrs. Stella Inyi-Agha; and Clinical Pharmacy with Dr. Chukwuemeka Ubaka as the Head”.

Prof. Onunkwo further expressed delight with TETFUND and the university’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Benjamin Ozumba for the successful construction of the gigantic three-storey building.

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Physics Writers Series Creation produces university physics textbooks

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Stories Stanley Chibuihem Amalaha

Eggheads from different Nigerian universities under the umbrella titled: Physics writers Series Creation, have produced array of textbooks in physics for Nigerian students. According to Prof. P.N. Okeke, a world renowned Physicist and president of the association, who initiated the project: “Physics Writers Series Creation is a compendium of seasoned physics lecturers from 20 universities in the South East and South South Nigeria. These lecturers decided to collaborate in the writing and production of different physics textbooks for Nigerian students. The aim is to make physics books easily accessible to our students and to reduce high cost of importation of foreign physics textbooks. It also serves as an academic training for physics lecturers in Nigerian universities because we use local examples in our environment as example in the illustrations in the book for more comprehension for students.
Prof. Okeke further highlighted on the books.
“Some of the textbooks we have produced include; Practical Physics texts; Mechanics/Properties of Matter/Thermal Physics; Electromagnetism/ Modern Physics/ Waves & Optics. These three books cover the syllabus for first year science/engineering courses in Nigerian universities which will help to equip our students in their fields of endevour. Other textbooks we have successfully produced for physics Majors includes: Introduction to Space Science, Special theory of relativity etc.
Prof. P.N. Okeke is a Professor Emeritus of physics & astronomy. He is the best author of physics textbook in West Africa who makes Physics easy and enjoyable in both secondary and tertiary levels.
He is the first African author of astronomy and space science textbooks. The first Director of NASRDA Centre for Basic Science in Nigeria. The first president of African Astronomical Society. He is a world figure with many international collaborations and discoveries.

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