The project addresses dispersal and effects of heavy metals and xenobiotic substances in the Ghanaian environment, primarily from rapidly increasing activities in informal economic sectors like artisanal mining (ASM) and management of waste electronic and electric equipment (WEEE). Earlier local-scale investigations and studies at known polluted sites prove the problem is important, but little systematic and dependable data exist on larger scale. Although ASM activities have been sought regulated since 1989, the efforts have in many studies been evalu-ated as ineffective, and awareness is low on individual and community level.
The project combines measurement of background concentrations in soil, water and air across the country with measurements of high temporal and spatial resolution in intensive study areas with known pollution sources. Different scales and types of models are used.
The project includes high resolution data from UAV (drone) borne sensors and remote sensing. The aim is to describe the dispersal of emissions from different sources, and the relative contribution to concentration levels and trends in background areas at country scale. The output will be used to assess existing and future effects on human health, ecosystems, and food production. Social science research is included to investigate how access to information and knowledge can be used to raise awareness, remove barriers for adaptation of better practices, and develop better risk handling strategies at individual and community level. A participatory approach is used.
The project will increase the competences at KNUST in conducting large-scale interdisciplinary field studies and using multi-scale modelling to address environmental and health risks. For the Ghanaian society, the knowledge will be important for policy development both at state, and district levels, and for stakeholders in the civil society like NGO’s, and producer’s organizations for e.g. cocoa, palm oil, sugar, and fish.
First-year report 2016:
The project seeks to address the dispersal effects of heavy metals and xenobiotic substances in Ghana, primarily from activities in the informal sector like artisanal and small-scale mining and management of wastes from electrical and electronic equipment. The project combines measurement of background concentrations in soil, water and air across the country with measurements of high temporal and spatial resolution in intensive study areas with known pollution sources. An initial study of mercury level in air showed increasing background concentrations from below 2 ng m-3 in the South to around 10 ng m-3 in mining areas in the North. In the mining community in Gbani in the Upper East Region, outdoor air concentrations in many cases exceeded 50 ng m-3 and indoor air concentrations could go up to 10,000 ng m-3. The pollution of soils in the community is, however, not severe with the 95 percentile of soil concentrations at 0.38 mg kg-1 below both European and US threshold values.