The current hot and humid weather nationwide, even in coastal areas, such as Lagos, is causing concern across the country, even as meteorologists and medical experts warn of its dangers on human and natural resources.From an average temperature of 33 degree Celsius and 70 per cent humidity in Lagos to 39 degree Celsius and 11 per cent in Maiduguri, the excessive sweating and heath rashes have become regular these days, making it difficult for many, especially children, to sleep comfortably at night.
Medical experts warn that the extreme weather could lead to more dire consequences, such as kidney failure, stroke, excessive bleeding and skin cancer in Albinos.
On their part, scientists blame the situation on increased Ultra Violet (UV) rays caused by the depletion of the ozone layer, warning that this could sterilise trees.
But to the meteorologists, the hot weather is a normal phenomenon around this period of the year due to transition from dry to rainy season.
According to a research review, an increase in heat waves worldwide linked to climate change might be behind the epidemics of kidney disease detected in workers, who are increasingly exposed to heat and dehydration.
A Consultant Public Health Physician at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Prof Akin Osibogun, told The Guardian: “When the weather is persistently hot and humid, as being experienced now, what happens is that there will be heat exhaustion and dehydration.
“When this loss of bodily fluid continues without adequate replacement, it will affect the body organs, especially the kidney that is involved with ultra-filtration. This can lead to kidney failure. Rapid water loss causes the kidney’s functioning to slow down, resulting in temporary or permanent kidney failure.
“Extreme heat causes rapid water loss, resulting in acute electrolyte imbalance. The kidney, unable to cope with the water loss, fails to flush out the requisite amount of creatinine and other toxins from the body. Coupled with a lack of consistent water intake, this brings about permanent or temporary kidney failure.”
He continued: “Another thing that can happen under this kind of hot and humid weather is that it will affect the brain and blood. It makes the blood less viscous and can easily escape from the vessels, causing excessive bleeding and haemorrhagic stroke.
“It can also cause skin cancer, but only in Abinos. People with black (dark) skin are protected from the carcinogenic effect of direct ultra-violet rays from the sun, because their skins have melanin. In most cases, they develop rashes, which can be very discomforting.”
Previous study published in Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research found that burden of renal diseases might increase, as the period of hot weather becomes more frequent, and this is further aggravated in advanced age and people with chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension.
Another study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology noted that extreme heat exposure could have immediate health effects, causing dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, as well as worsening pre-existing chronic disease, which can be fatal.
The researchers said although chronic kidney disease is often caused by diabetes or high blood pressure, it could also be the result of recurrent heat exposure with physical activity and not enough hydration, which puts a heavy strain on the kidneys.
On what Nigerians should do to protect themselves, Osibogun, who is the immediate past Chief Dedical director (CMD) of LUTH, said: “We should reduce our exposure to the sun. It depends on the kind of work you do, but reduce the number of hours you stay under the sun, or rather outside, although some people, like bricklayers, cannot help but stay in the sun all day.
“The negative effect could also be reduced by drinking enough water to replace the lost fluid from excessive sweating. Try and carry bottled water wherever you go and drink at least three litres of water daily.”
A consultant meteorologist, Mr. Cyprian Okoloye, formerly with the Central Forecast Office of the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET), noted: “The weather is not unusual. We are approaching the transition period between the dry season and rainy season. Usually, during the transition period, you experience very hot and humid weather. In a couple of days, you may see some showers.
“The situation will return after the showers, even harsher conditions.”
Meanwhile, experts believe that a depleted ozone layer contributed to the largest mass extinction ever on earth, which took place 252 million years ago.
A new study, published in the Science Advances journal shows that extreme levels of ultraviolet rays emanating from the sun and passing through the atmosphere could cause trees to become sterile, leading to a catastrophic shortage of nutrition, which affected every level of the food chain, during the end-Permian crisis.
Since the 1980s, the ozone has been damaged by man-made chemicals and is at risk of again being destroyed, leaving the planet vulnerable to the harmful radiation.
Experts discovered that while the radiation does not kill the plants, it deforms pollen and damages pine cones, making reproduction impossible.