Multi-trace element levels and arsenic speciation in urine of e-waste recycling workers from Agbogbloshie, Accra in Ghana

In this study, the authors analysed multi-trace elements (TE)and As speciation in urine of e-waste recycling workers in order to understand human contamination by TE at the electrical and electronic waste (ewaste) recycling site at Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana. Urinary Fe, Sb, and Pb concentrations in e-waste recycling workers were significantly higher than those at reference sites after considering interaction by age, indicating that recycling workers are exposed to these TE through work activity. Urinary As concentrations were relatively high, although its concentration in drinking water was quite low. As speciation analysis in human urine showed arsenobetaine and dimethylarsinic acid were the predominant As species; concentrations of both were positively correlated with total As concentration and between each other. Results suggested such compounds may be derived from the same source, probably fish and shellfish, and greatly affect As exposure levels. This is the first study of human contamination resulting from primitive e-waste recycling in Ghana. The authors conclude that it will contribute knowledge concerning human exposure to TE from an e-waste site in a less industrialised region thus far scantly covered in the literature.

Authors: Asante, Kwadwo Ansong; Agusa, Tetsuro; Biney, Charles Augustus; Agyekum, William Atuobi; Bello, Mohammed; Otsuka, Masanari; Itai, Takaaki; Takahashi, Shin; Tanabe, Shinsuke ;Full Source: Science of the Total Environment [online computer file] 2012, 424, 63-73 (Eng) ;