The Delta is home to much of Nigeria’s oil industry—about 2 million barrels of oil are extracted from the area each day—and it has become the site of major pollution from hydrocarbons. Between 1976 and 2001 there were nearly 7,000 incidents involving oil spills in which most of the oil was never recovered, and an average of 240,000 barrels a year are spilled into the Niger delta, often because of mechanical failure or oil pirates. The spills contaminate the water, air and land with carcinogens like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. A 2013 article estimates that widespread pollution from the spills could have an impact on crops and lead to a 24% increase in childhood malnutrition. Crude oil contamination can also cause infertility and cancer.
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