Environ Health Toxicol.  2016 ;31(1):e2016006. 10.5620/eht.e2016006.

Spatial assessment of soil contamination by heavy metals from informal electronic waste recycling in Agbogbloshie, Ghana

Affiliations
  • 1Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany. kyerevincent@gmail.com
  • 2Geography Institute, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany.
  • 3Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, Accra, Ghana.

Abstract


OBJECTIVES
This study examined the spatial distribution and the extent of soil contamination by heavy metals resulting from primitive, unconventional informal electronic waste recycling in the Agbogbloshie e-waste processing site (AEPS) in Ghana.
METHODS
A total of 132 samples were collected at 100 m intervals, with a handheld global position system used in taking the location data of the soil sample points. Observing all procedural and quality assurance measures, the samples were analyzed for barium (Ba), cadmium (Cd), cobalt (Co), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), mercury (Hg), nickel (Ni), lead (Pb), and zinc (Zn), using X-ray fluorescence. Using environmental risk indices of contamination factor and degree of contamination (Cdeg), we analyzed the individual contribution of each heavy metal contamination and the overall Cdeg. We further used geostatistical techniques of spatial autocorrelation and variability to examine spatial distribution and extent of heavy metal contamination.
RESULTS
Results from soil analysis showed that heavy metal concentrations were significantly higher than the Canadian Environmental Protection Agency and Dutch environmental standards. In an increasing order, Pb>Cd>Hg>Cu>Zn>Cr>Co>Ba>Ni contributed significantly to the overall Cdeg. Contamination was highest in the main working areas of burning and dismantling sites, indicating the influence of recycling activities. Geostatistical analysis also revealed that heavy metal contamination spreads beyond the main working areas to residential, recreational, farming, and commercial areas.
CONCLUSIONS
Our results show that the studied heavy metals are ubiquitous within AEPS and the significantly high concentration of these metals reflect the contamination factor and Cdeg, indicating soil contamination in AEPS with the nine heavy metals studied.

Keyword

Electronic waste; Geostatistical techniques; Heavy metals; Contamination factor; Degree of contamination

MeSH Terms

Agriculture
Barium
Burns
Cadmium
Chromium
Cobalt
Copper
Electronic Waste*
Fluorescence
Ghana*
Metals
Metals, Heavy*
Nickel
Recycling*
Soil*
Spatial Analysis
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Zinc
Barium
Cadmium
Chromium
Cobalt
Copper
Metals
Metals, Heavy
Nickel
Soil
Zinc
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