Open Access Peer-reviewed Research Article

A qualitative study on the morbidity experiences of under-five children in oil spill communities

Main Article Content

Pearl Abereton corresponding author
Best Ordinioha
Jacob Mensah-Attipoe
Oluyemi Toyinbo


Introduction: Under-five years old (U5) children that reside in oil spill communities are exposed to various pollutants, and therefore are prone to respiratory symptoms and diseases. This study aimed to develop a deeper understanding on the lived experiences of U5 children residing in these communities.
Methods: The study was done in August, 2022 , on eleven caregivers/parents of U5 children, aged 26-45 years old via purposive sampling. This study utilized a phenomenological research design through in-depth interviews and audio recordings.
Results: Findings revealed that numerous oil spills have occurred, and are still occurring. According to the respondents, these spills are caused majorly by poor maintenance of old, rusted pipelines of oil companies; and pipeline vandalism, leading to land, water and air pollution. Results also showed that these spills have led to several adverse respiratory health (RH) experiences in U5, including cough, catarrh, chest pain and other health emergencies that have resulted in frequent hospital visitations and admissions like difficulty/fast breathing, pneumonia, hemoptysis, exacerbation of previously existing conditions, asthma development, etc. The destruction of their source of livelihood, have contributed to worsening these symptoms.
Conclusion: U5 children living in crude oil polluted areas are burdened with a high prevalence of respiratory symptoms and diseases. Implementation of already existing regulatory laws on oil pollution, prompt clean-up of oil spills, provision of standard health facilities, and trained health personnels, were some of the measures recommended to curb the menace of crude oil spills and its RH effects.

respiratory health, under-five children, phenomenology, crude oil spill, air quality

Article Details

How to Cite
Abereton, P., Ordinioha, B., Mensah-Attipoe, J., & Toyinbo, O. (2023). A qualitative study on the morbidity experiences of under-five children in oil spill communities. Health and Environment, 4(1), 198-208.


  1. Agu KC, Bassey EE, Iloanusi CA, et al. Isolation and Characterization of Microorganisms from Oil Polluted Soil in Kwata, Awka South, Nigeria. American Journal of Current Microbiology, 2015, 3(1): 1-14.
  2. Okafor UC, Orji MU, Agu KC, et al. Bioremediation of Crude Oil-polluted Soil Using Broiler-Chicken Droppings. Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2016, 4(4): 75-84.
  3. Okafor UC, Orji MU, Nwankwegu AS, et al. Effect of Chicken droppings amendment on bioremediation of crude oil polluted soil. European Journal of Experimental Biology, 2016, 6(4): 62-68.
  4. Anaukwu CG, Ezemba CC, Anakwenze VN, et al. Influence of Anionic, Cationic and Non-Ionic surfactants on growth of hydrocarbon Utilizing Bacteria. American Journal of Current Microbiology, 2016, 4: 10-16.
  5. Anaukwu CG, Ezemba CC, Anakwenze VN, et al. Effect of biosurfactant produced by Citrobacter murliniae AF025369 and a synthetic surfactant on degradation of crude oil. Edorium Journal of Microbiology, 2016, 2: 1-6.
  6. Francis P, LaPin DA and Rossiasco P. Securing Development and Peace in the Niger Delta: A Social Conflict Analysis for Change. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 2011.
  7. Oviasuyi PO and Uwadiae J. The dilemma of Niger-Delta region as oil producing states of Nigeria. Journal of Peace, Conflict and Development, 2010, 16(1): 10-26.
  8. Agu KC and Odibo FJ. Biodegradation Potentials of Aspergillus Flavipes Isolated from Uburu and Okposi Salt Lakes. International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development, 2021, 5(5): 1160-1170.
  9. Asimiea AM and Omokhua GO. Environmental impact of illegal refineries on the vegetation of the Niger Delta, Nigeria. Journal of Agriculture and Social Research, 2013, 13(2): 121-126.
  10. Kadafa AA. Environmental impacts of oil exploration and exploitation in the Niger Delta of Nigeria. Global Journal of Science Frontier Research Environment & Earth Sciences, 2012, 12(3): 19-28.
  11. Muizis A. Evaluation of the methods for the oil spill response in the offshore arctic region, 2013.
  12. Abereton P, Ordinioha B, Mensah-Attipoe J, et al. Crude Oil Spills and Respiratory Health of Clean-Up Workers: A Systematic Review of Literature. Atmosphere, 2023, 14(3): 494.
  13. Tarr MA, Zito P, Overton EB, et al. Weathering of oil spilled in the marine environment. Oceanography, 2016, 29(3): 126-135.
  14. Abdulhamid BD and Jamel RM. Environmental risk modeling of power plants & oil installations in Libya. In2017 International Conference on Smart, Monitored and Controlled Cities (SM2C) 2017 Feb 17 (pp. 106-110), IEEE.
  15. Afshar-Mohajer N, Fox MA and Koehler K. The human health risk estimation of inhaled oil spill emissions with and without adding dispersant. Science of the Total Environment, 2019, 654: 924-932.
  16. Farrington JW. Oil pollution in the marine environment III: Fates and effects of chronic oil inputs. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 2014, 56(5): 12-25.
  17. Nance E, King D, Wright B and Bullard RD. Ambient air concentrations exceeded health-based standards for fine particulate matter and benzene during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 2016, 66(2): 224-236.
  18. Pollution WA. Child Health: Prescribing Clean Air. World Health Organization: Geneva, Switzerland, 2018.
  19. Ostro B, Spadaro JV, Gumy S, et al. Assessing the recent estimates of the global burden of disease for ambient air pollution: Methodological changes and implications for low-and middle-income countries. Environmental research, 2018, 166: 713-725.
  20. Ede PN and Edokpa DO. Regional air quality of the Nigeria's Niger Delta. Open Journal of Air Pollution, 4(1): 7.
  21. World Health Organization. Ambient air pollution: training for health care providers. World Health Organization, 2019.
  22. Zar HJ and Ferkol TW. The global burden of respiratory disease-impact on child health. Pediatric pulmonology, 2014, 49(5): 430-434.
  23. Noh SR, Kim JA, Cheong HK, et al. Hebei Spirit oil spill and its long-term effect on children's asthma symptoms. Environmental Pollution, 2019, 248: 286-294.
  24. Kousky C. Impacts of natural disasters on children. The Future of children, 2016, 1: 73-92.
  25. Park MS, Choi KH, Lee SH, et al. Health effect research on Hebei Spirit Oil Spill (HEROS) in Korea: a cohort profile. BMJ open, 2019, 9(8): e026740.
  26. Chinedu E and Chukwuemeka CK. Oil spillage and heavy metals toxicity risk in the Niger Delta, Nigeria. Journal of Health and Pollution, 2018, 8(19): 180905.
  27. Pegg S and Zabbey N. Oil and water: the Bodo spills and the destruction of traditional livelihood structures in the Niger Delta. Community Development Journal, 2013, 48(3): 391-405.
  28. Sako E. Public health implications of oil pollution in Koluama: Nigeria (Doctoral dissertation, Walden University), 2017.
  29. Hennink M and Kaiser BN. Sample sizes for saturation in qualitative research: A systematic review of empirical tests. Social Science & Medicine, 2022, 292: 114523.
  30. Braun V and Clarke V. Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative research in psychology, 2006, 3(2): 77-101.
  31. Okolo PO and Etekpe A. Oil pipeline vandalization and the socio-economic effects in Nigeria's Niger Delta region. SSRN, 2010, 1723169.
  32. NOSDRA. Oil spill data, 2022.
  33. Osaiyuwu RC and Ugbebor JN. Air quality assessment of some oil facilities host communities in Rivers State. Nigerian Journal of Technology, 2019, 38(1): 242-252.
  34. Nduka JK and Orisakwe OE. Water-quality issues in the Niger Delta of Nigeria: a look at heavy metal levels and some physicochemical properties. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 2011, 18: 237-246.
  35. D'Andrea MA and Reddy GK. Health risks associated with crude oil spill exposure. The American Journal of Medicine, 2014, 127(9): 886-889.
  36. Bashir MT. Environmental, public health and socio-economic issues of oil spillage in Niger Delta, Nigeria. International Journal of Engineering Research & Technology, 2021, 10(2): 62-66.
  37. Jung SC, Kim KM, Lee KS, et al. Respiratory effects of the Hebei Spirit oil spill on children in Taean, Korea. Allergy, asthma & immunology research, 2013, 5(6): 365-370.
  38. Beedasy J, Petkova EP, Lackner S, et al. Gulf Coast parents speak: children's health in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Environmental Hazards, 2021, 20(3): 248-263.
  39. UNICEF. Clean the air for the children: The impact of air pollution on the children, 2016.