By Christopher Njoku
The Federal Government is making plans to prosecute users of PolyChlorinated Biphenyl (PCBs), popularly known as transformer oil, in frying “Akara” (bean cake), plantain chips, chicken and other food items.
Prof. Babajide Alloy, a Consultant to the Federal Ministry of Environment, made the disclosure on Tuesday in an interview with newsmen on the sidelines of a workshop in Calabar.
According to him, the consumption of food prepared from the chemical substance will expose the public to cancers of the lungs, heart, kidney and liver diseases.
“For a long time, PCBs were the cooling liquid used in electrical transformers, until the world found out that this oil was toxic, and is trying to phase it out.
“Jail term awaits those caught using PCBs to fry Akara, chicken and plantain chips at the roadside to sell to the public because the oil is toxic and carcinogenic.
“We found out that it is all over the place in Nigeria, dump sites, and in old National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) compounds,” he said.
Alloy said a survey carried out by the ministry revealed that the oil was currently being used in making food like Akara.
The consultant added that the unsuspecting public was being deceived by the likeness of the oil to the commonly used groundnut oil.
“Some food vendors now mix PCBs with groundnut oil to fry Akara and sell to the general public.
“Of course, they may not know how hazardous what they are doing is. This exercise is to sensitise policymakers and everyone about this malaise.
“It is important to note that spillage of PCBs is always a danger when equipment is to be transported; it should, therefore, be transported only in sealed containers,” he said.
The workshop was organised for state councils, regulatory bodies, power operators and customs officers on the application of PCB regulations and guidelines for Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) of PCBs. (NAN)