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Oil spill proximity and child death
Interesting piece in the Guardian:

«Babies in Nigeria at double the risk of dying before they reach a month old if mothers lived near the scene of an oil spill before conceiving, study shows».

And this isn't people bathing in oil, or anything. «[O]il spills occurring *within 10km* [emphasis mine] of a mother’s place of residence doubled neonatal mortality rates and impaired the health of her surviving children.»

The reason unborn children are affected so, is because «they have not yet developed basic defences such as the blood-brain barrier, which helps protect against toxic chemicals, the study found. Even small doses of pollution are likely to be large in comparison to an infant’s body weight, while mothers who ingest poisoned food or contaminated water are also at greater risk of maternal malnutrition and sickness,potentially increasing infant mortality risks».

And the effect is strictly pre-conception; «oil spills that occurred while the mother was still pregnant had no effect on child or neonatal mortality. But even spills that happened five years [emphasis mine] before conception doubled the neonatal mortality rate».

As for the lack of effect during pregnancy, the reason «is not entirely clear,» but «maybe it is due to the cumulative contamination of crude oil in the water and soil, which increases over time.»

Debbie Ariyo (of Africans Unite Against Child Abuse) put it well: «It is shocking to consider how many children may have died in the past 50 years – since oil exploration started in Nigeria’s Niger Delta – as a direct result of regular and uncontrolled oil spills».

An absolute tragedy. And a staple of civilisation.

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