A survey by the federal ministry of environment has revealed that Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCBs), popularly known as transformer oil, is currently used in frying “Akara” (bean cake), plantain chips, chicken, and other food items by vendors, The Guardian reports.
In an interview with newsmen during a workshop in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, Professor Babajide Alloy, a consultant to the Federal Ministry of Environment, disclosed on Tuesday that there are plans to prosecute defaulters.
The workshop was organized for state councils, regulatory bodies, power operators and customs officers on the application of PCBs regulations and guidelines for Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) of PCBs.
Alloy said the consumption of food prepared from the chemical substance will endanger the public to cancers of the lungs, heart, kidney and liver diseases.
“For a long time, PCBs was the cooling liquid used in electricity transformers, until the world found out that this oil was toxic, and is trying to phase it out, ” he said. “Jail term awaits those caught using PCBs to fry Akara, chicken and plantain chips at 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 added.
Furthermore, Alloy said that the unsuspecting public were being misled by the similarity of the oil to the generally used groundnut oil.
“Some food vendors now mix PCBs with groundnut oil to fry Akara and sell to the general public,” he continued. “Of course, they may not know how hazardous what they are doing is. This exercise is to sensitize policymakers and everyone of 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.”