Burning waste contributes to dangerous food contamination.
Photo: ©Martin Holznick, ARNIKA 


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High levels of some of the most hazardous chemicals on Earth have been found in eggs in Agbogbloshie, Ghana. The contamination results primarily from the breaking apart of discarded electronics (e-waste) and burning plastics to recover metals.

New research reveals dire human exposures and food chain contamination from highly toxic plastics in waste in Ghana that includes toxic e-waste shipped from Europe, IPEN and Basel Action Network (BAN) reported in April 2019.

Researchers analysed the eggs of free-range chickens that forage in the Agbogbloshie slum in Ghana, home to an estimated 80,000 people who subsist primarily by retrieving and selling copper cable and other metals from e-waste. Their findings were published in the report Weak Controls: European E-waste Poisons Africa’s Food Chain.

The process of smashing and burning the plastic casing and cables to extract the metals releases dangerous chemicals found within the plastics, such as brominated flame retardants, and creates highly toxic by-product chemicals like brominated and chlorinated dioxins and furans. The sampling of eggs revealed alarmingly high levels of some of the most hazardous and banned chemicals in the world, including dioxins, brominated dioxins, PCBs (chlorinated diphenyls), PBDE (Polybromierte Diphenylether) and SCCPs (short-chain chlorinated paraffins).

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