The health impact and lung function indices of adult residents of Ibeno Community exposed to gas flaring in south-south Nigeria


  • Ekwere M. E.
  • Bandele E. O.
  • Peters G. E.
  • Umoh V. A.
  • Peters E. J.


Background: Epidemiological studies indicate that exposure to air pollution caused by gas flaring may have an association with an increased risk of adverse respiratory effects. This study investigates the effects of gas flaring on the lung health of Ibeno community residents, Akwa Ibom State focusing on respiratory symptoms and lung function indices
Methods: A total of 386 adult resident in Ibeno for at least two years and 386 age, sex and height matched controls resident in Etinan, also for at least two years were recruited to a cross-sectional survey comparing their respiratory symptoms and lung function indices. The study was conducted between March and May 2014 using spirometer and questionnaire as investigative tools. Both descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyze the data.
Results: Most of the respondents in both exposed and control communities were aged 18-30 years, with a height range of 161-170cm. Both exposed and controls subjects experienced similar symptoms suggestive of respiratory disorders, however the prevalence was higher among exposed subjects than controls: cough- 57(14.8%) vs. 39(10.1%); breathlessness 58(15%) vs. 28(7.3); wheezing 22(5.7) vs. 12(3.1). The respondents from the exposed community were mostly traders and fishermen while the controls were predominantly farmers. The PEFR, FVC and FEV1 (mean ± SD) for the subjects were 300.6±2.15 l/min, 2.58±8.43 and 2.01±0.76 respectively; while the PEFR, FVC and FEV1 for the controls were 342±2.16l/min, 2.27±0.82 and 2.13±0.75 respectively.
Conclusion: In view of these findings, there is evidence that prolonged exposure to air pollution from gas flaring impacts negatively on lung function reflected as reduced PEFR, FEV1, and worsening respiratory symptoms among residents in the exposed community. There is need for the government to speed up the implementation of polices regarding the reduction of flaring of natural gas associated with oil production. There is also a need for further research to be carried out on the long term effects of chronic exposure to gas flaring on lung health and methods of interventions to minimize or possibly eliminate these effects.

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