Keywords: Pollution, chemistry education,wastes, renewable energy.
Owerri municipal council area of Imo State is environmentally polluted and degraded, what with the despicable state of the Nworie river which has served as the dump for all sorts of solid and liquid wastes and the mountainous heaps of solid refuse on major roads, streets, houses and market places within the municipally. The Nworie and Otamiri rivers are the principal sources of municipal water supply. Indiscriminate dumping of faeces in these rivers causes the spread of diseases (Nwankwo, 2004).
The National Policy on Education (NPE, 2004) emphasise the acquisition of appropriate skills, abilities and competences both mental and physical as equipment for the individual to live in and contribute to the development of his society. Chemistry is the study of the composition and transformation of matter. The knowledge of chemistry is a prerequisite for medicine, pharmacy, engineering, geology, technology, agriculture, metallurgy and even computer. According to the Wikipedia (2008), chemical education is a comprehensive term referring to topics related to the study of the teaching and learning of chemistry in schools, colleges and universities. Topics in chemistry education include understanding how students learn chemistry, how best to teach chemistry and improved methods and appropriate training of chemistry teachers through classroom lectures, demonstrations and laboratory activities. Thus education chemistry graduates can be gainfully employed in environmental protection agencies where they can apply their knowledge to the solution of environmental pollution. The study is about the application of the knowledge of chemistry to the solution of environmental pollution in Owerri municipal Council area of Imo State.
Statement of problem
The agencies involved with environmental protection in Imo State include the Environmental Transformation Committee (ENTRACO), the Ministry of Petroleum and Environment (MPE) and the Clean and Green initiative of the Ohakim Government. Despite these bodies, the problem of environmental pollution in Owerri Municipal council area seems insurmountable. Could it be that these agencies do not have education chemistry graduates in their employment to manage and dispose the wastes generated within the municipality? This study attempts to ascertain the application of the knowledge of Chemists to the solution of environmental pollution in the municipality. The study highlights the need to utilize education chemistry graduates and chemistry laboratories to the solution of environmental pollution and degradation and thereby ease the problem of unemployment of graduates of tertiary institution.
Purpose of study
Table : 1Environmental agencies and number of workers.
Four –itemed opinionnaire and six structured interview questions were used to elicit responses and answers that constituted the data for the study. Also physical inspection and examination of facilities and records of the agencies were made. Several pilot studies were made to strengthen the reliability of the instrument which was tested using the test-retest technique The opinionnnaïre and structured interview questions were administered face to face to the workers
who responded: Strongly Agreed (5), Agreed (4), Disagreed (3) ¸Strongly Disagreed (2), Undecided (1) on a Likert type scale and also answered the questions.
The mean of the responses were calculated and means ≥3 were accepted whereas means < 3 were rejected. Recorded anwers to the structured questions were summarized and quantified in percentages of the entire sample of the study.
Results and discussions
Committee (ENTRACO). The knowledge of chemistry is needed for the solution of problems of environmental pollution. Chemists, Chemical Analysts, Biochemists and Chemical Engineers can be employed to separate the different types of wastes, treat, analyse and recycle the wastes to produce different materials like plastics, bottles, paper, biogas and organic fertilizers among others thereby enhancing aesthetic beauty of the roads, streets, markets and homes. Indeed indiscriminate dumping of refuse has thwarted the visual image and aesthetics quality of the environment (Population Reference Bureau, 2005). Biogas from wastes is a renewable and alternative energy source. Possibility of biogas production from wastes will reduce the burning of fossil fuels for bulk power generation. The burning of fossil fuels to provide energy has been the major cause of environmental pollution and global climatic warming now seen as the earth’s greatest enemy.
Table 2: Responses regarding the relevance of chemistry education to the solution of environment pollution
Opinionnaire Mean Remarks
The knowledge of chemistry
is relevant to the solution of
environment pollution. 3.61 Accepted
The problem of environmental pollution
Wastes can be separated and
Organic wastes can be centrally
The agencies (MPE, ENTRACO)
Waste products of industrialised society can be used to provide energy for electric power. It has beenestimated that 50-60% of urban wastes is combustible (Okafor, 2009). Science has proved that potential exists for burning some millions tons of wastes products each year and using the heat to produce steam for driving small steam turbines in order to produce electric power. Palm kernel and fibre wastes have been sources of energy for cooking in our rural communities. The amount of heat
On the question of the number of education chemists presently under the employment of MPE and ENTRACO, responses to the structured questions show that there are no chemistry graduates employed by these agencies. This implies that roles that should be performed by chemistry graduates are not done, that is chemistry graduates play no role in solving the problems of environmental pollution in the municipality. Chemistry graduates should be employed in these agencies to ease the problem of unemployment. With their knowledge, wastes which otherwise would contribute to environmental hazards would be converted into energy source (Nnokwe & Ibekwe, 2009). Biogas technology is an alternative energy source and a way of solving problems of environmental pollution from industrial and domestic wastes.
From the responses on opinionnaire items on Table 2, the question of functional laboratories has a mean of 1.02 which is rejected, that is, there are no chemistry laboratories owed by these agencies
that biogas yield from cassava peels can be enhanced by chemical treatment. The fact that fossil fuels produce harmful emissions in engines, contain sulphur which produces sulphurous oxides responsible for acid rain, emit carbon (iv) oxide which gives green house gases and depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer that shields the earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation necessitated the development of other alternatives such as bio-fuel. Also Nnokwe & Ibekwe (2009) showed that kitchen wastes which otherwise may have contributed to pollution in the environment could be converted into an environmentally friendly source of energy. Production of such renewable energy sources can only be aided by the application of knowledge of chemistry and other applied sciences.
All the workers of agencies declared that the mode of waste disposal within the municipality is by depositing the waste into landfills sites located near mechanic village along Aba-Owerri Road and other landfills sites along Owerri- Onitsha road. It is a well known fact that leachate from municipal solid waste dumps pollutes river water through run – offs and ground water through percolation. Anaerobic conditions may set in resulting in odour, bad taste and bacterial proliferation (DOE, 1974). A treatment strategy for the municipal solid wastes is necessary and application of the knowledge of chemistry is needed.
Department of Environment (DOE) (1974) Pollution of water by tipped
Draft copy of Lagos State Environmental protection Act (1985).
Nnokwe .J. C. and Ibekwe (2009).Biogas production from kitchen waste (a crushed mixture of yam peels, ripe- plantain peels and beans coats).FUTO Alterative Energy. International conference on renewable and alternative energy. Conference Paper. Unpublished.
Nwankwo, B.O .(2004). Environmental sanitation and health. Owerri: Chery Bren & Co Publishers.
Ofoefule, A.U, Eme, E.L. and Uzodinma E.O. (2009).Comparative study of the effect of chemical treatment on cassava (Manihot utissima) peels for biogas production. FUTO Alternative Energy International conference on renewable and alternative energy. Conference Paper.
Okafor, E. N. C. (2009). Distributed power generation: A way forward to Nigeria Electrical power system: FUTO Alternative Energy. International conference on renewable and alternative energy. Conference paper. Unpublished.
Population Reference Bureau (2005).Critical link; population, health
Wikipedia (2008).Org/wiki/ chemistry education http;//en.