Spatial assessment of potential ecological risk of heavy metals in soils from informal e-waste recycling in Ghana
OPEN Environmental health and toxicology | 24 Oct 2017
VN Kyere, K Greve, SM Atiemo and JH Ephraim
The rapidly increasing annual global volume of e-waste, and of its inherently valuable fraction, has created an opportunity for individuals in Agbogbloshie, Accra, Ghana to make a living by using unconventional, uncontrolled, primitive and crude procedures to recycle and recover valuable metals from this waste. The current form of recycling procedures releases hazardous fractions, such as heavy metals, into the soil, posing a significant risk to the environment and human health. Using a handheld GPS, 132 soil samples based on 100 m grid intervals were collected and analysed for cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), mercury (Hg), lead (Pb) and zinc (Zn). Using geostatistical techniques and sediment quality guidelines, this research seeks to assess the potential risk these heavy metals posed to the proposed Korle Ecological Restoration Zone by informal e-waste processing site in Agbogbloshie, Accra, Ghana. Analysis of heavy metals revealed concentrations exceeded the regulatory limits of both Dutch and Canadian soil quality and guidance values, and that the ecological risk posed by the heavy metals extended beyond the main burning and dismantling sites of the informal recyclers to the school, residential, recreational, clinic, farm and worship areas. The heavy metals Cr, Cu, Pb and Zn had normal distribution, spatial variability, and spatial autocorrelation. Further analysis revealed the decreasing order of toxicity, Hg > Cd > Pb > Cu> Zn > Cr, of contributing significantly to the potential ecological risk in the study area.
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