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7 students allegedly died to CO inhalation

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By Mercy Kelani

Toxic generator fumes in the studio was said to be the likely cause of death.

In Nigeria’s Bayelsa State, a tragic incident has resulted in the loss of seven university students who were found to have been exposed to toxic fumes from a generator while in a music studio. It was rumoured that the young men worked well into the night on May 20, 2024, and ended up falling asleep in the studio, which was locked, while the generator was still running. Authorities are currently looking into the possibility that the individuals may have died from inhaling carbon monoxide, although they have not yet confirmed the cause of death.

A large number of businesses and households in Nigeria depend on generators that run on diesel or petrol due to the lack of reliable Electricity supply. Local media reported that a total of six bodies were found in the morning, on May 21, 2024. One of the individuals, who was unconscious when discovered, was quickly taken to a nearby hospital. Despite efforts to save their life, they unfortunately passed away. The people living nearby noticed something was wrong when they looked into the studio window and saw the bodies lying on the ground, prompting them to alert others.

Carbon monoxide poisoning caused by the fumes from a generator.

Law enforcement officials arrived at the scene in the Amarata area of Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa state, and established a secure perimeter following the removal of the deceased individuals. They are currently conducting investigations, however, from their observations, the potential cause could be carbon monoxide poisoning caused by the fumes from a generator, stated Musa Mohammed, the spokesperson for the police, in a recently conducted interview. These undergraduate students studying at the state-owned Niger Delta University (NDU) in Amassoma were victims of this tragic incident while pursuing their passion for music recording in order to fund their Education.

Generator fumes have tragically claimed lives in Nigeria before, a country that holds the title of Africa’s largest oil producer. Thirteen family members, among them four children, tragically passed away in 2009 from toxic fumes emitted by their power generator as they slept in a distant village located in the south eastern region of Imo State. A recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) found that approximately 40% of the electricity needs in Nigeria are met through the use of backup generators.

Tinubu has implemented policy to promote the use of cleaner energy sources.

More so, in Nigeria, despite being a leading producer of oil and gas, the reliability of grid power supplies is frequently inconsistent. President Bola Tinubu has implemented a new policy requiring government agencies to exclusively invest in vehicles and generators that operate on Natural Gas. This decision was made in order to promote the use of cleaner energy sources and reduce the country’s expenditure on fuel. CO, also known as carbon monoxide, is a dangerous gas that is both flammable and toxic. It lacks colour, scent, flavour, and is slightly lighter than air.

Indoor air quality is significantly impacted by the presence of carbon monoxide, a highly toxic contaminant. This harmful gas can be produced by Tobacco smoke as well as faulty fuel-burning stoves and heating systems using wood, natural gas, kerosene, propane, or oil. Blocked flues connected to these appliances can also lead to carbon monoxide build-up. Unfortunately, carbon monoxide poisoning is a prevalent and fatal form of air poisoning in numerous countries. In urban environments, carbon monoxide is a common Pollutant that is only present temporarily. It mainly comes from the Emissions of internal combustion engines found in vehicles, generators, lawnmowers, and power washers.

Related Article: Emissions Expose Nigerians to CO Poisoning

However, it can also be produced from the incomplete burning of different types of fuels such as wood, charcoal, coal, paraffin, oil, propane, natural gas, and trash. Sudden exposure to carbon monoxide can result in lasting impacts on the brain and behaviour. In extreme cases, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause loss of consciousness, coma, and even death. Continuous exposure to small amounts of carbon monoxide can result in tiredness, frequent headaches, feelings of nausea, flu-like symptoms, and problems with both thinking and Heart Health.


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