Ghana – Tests around an informal electronic waste salvage site in Ghana’s capital Accra have revealed contamination with lead, cadmium and other pollutants which are more than 50 times above risk-free levels.
A school, produce market, church and football field near the Agbogbloshie scrap metal site were found to have been polluted to varying degrees.
The contamination test results were shared by Ghanian researcher Atiemo Sampson at this year’s Solving the E-waste Problem (StEP-Initiative) Summer School, hosted in Europe by Philips and Umicore for 20 of the field’s most promising international graduate researchers.
In soil samples taken from around the school, lead levels were found to be 12 times higher and cadmium levels 2.5 times higher than those at which intervention is required. Mr Sampson comments: ‘Until now, Ghana has not regulated the importation and management of e-waste. Although Ghana is a signatory to the Basel Convention (which regulates the import and export of hazardous wastes), rules are only now being incorporated into our national legal framework. The government hopes to have new rules in place next year.’
A recent Ghanian government study reports that, in 2009, the country imported some 215 000 tonnes of electronics, 70% of which were used items; of this proportion, some 15% were described as trash while many of the usable products, it was argued, become e-waste relatively quickly due to their shorter lifespan compared to new items.