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Abstract and Figures

This study investigated POPs contamination at a total of six sites: the world’s largest e-waste scrap yard in Agbogbloshie (Ghana); medical waste incinerators in Accra (Ghana), Kumasi (Ghana) and Yaoundé (Cameroon); and two open-burning waste dump sites in Yaoundé (Cameroon). The study measured POPs in eggs because free-range chickens are “active samplers” of materials on the ground. Eggs also represent an important human exposure pathway through consumption. To our knowledge, this is the first study to measure POPs in free-range chicken eggs from hens foraging at the Agbogbloshie e-waste scrap yard, as well as in Yaoundé. The key findings of this study are: High levels of POPs were found at all six sites The sampling revealed very high levels of chlorinated dioxins, brominated dioxins, PCBs, PBDEs, and SCCPs in the eggs of chickens that had foraged in areas at the e-waste scrap yard, open burning dump sites and medical waste incinerators. Some of the highest levels of POPs ever measured in eggs were found in samples collected at the Agbogbloshie e-waste scrap yard in Ghana Eggs sampled at the Agbogbloshie scrap yard in Ghana contained the highest level of brominated dioxins ever measured in eggs and one of the highest ever measured levels of the flame retardant chemical, HBCD. These eggs also contained the second highest level of chlorinated dioxins ever measured in poultry eggs. An adult eating just one egg from a free-range chicken foraging in Agbogbloshie area would exceed the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) tolerable daily intake (TDI) for chlorinated dioxins by 220-fold. Indicator PCBs in these eggs were four-fold higher than the EU standard and dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs were 171-fold higher than the standard. These eggs also contained very high levels of SCCPs and PBDEs and relatively high levels of other POPs such as PeCB and HCB. Eggs sampled near medical waste incinerators exceeded EU dioxin standards Eggs near the medical waste incinerator in Accra, Ghana exceeded the EU dioxin limit by 13-fold and eggs sampled near the facility in Yaoundé exceeded the limit by more than two-fold. PCBs did not exceed limits, but significant levels were also found. High levels of HBCD were also found in eggs from the vicinity of the Yaoundé waste incinerator and one of the dumpsites. Stockholm and Basel Convention provisions need strengthening Hazardous waste limits in the Stockholm Convention should prevent the export of POPs waste, including e-waste. Currently the existing and proposed limits for POPs found in e-waste and generated by its ‘recycling’ in Africa and other developing regions is far too weak and allows the trade to continue. This includes limits for chlorinated dioxins/furans, flame retardant chemicals such as PBDEs and HBCD, and short chain chlorinated paraffins. These stricter limits (defined as Low POP Content in the Stockholm Convention) should be 50 mg/kg for PBDEs, 100 mg/kg for HBCD and SCCPs and 1 μg TEQ/kg for PCDD/Fs at a maximum. The Stockholm Convention could be further strengthened by listing brominated dioxins. The current provisional e-waste guidelines under the Basel Convention contain a loophole that allows for e-waste export under the guise of ‘export for repair’. This industry-promoted loophole makes the guidelines contradictory to the Convention because electronic products at end-of-life are hazardous waste. This loophole should be closed to preserve the integrity of the treaty. Greater attention is needed to fully implement sustainable healthcare waste management The data obtained from egg samples near medical waste incinerators in this study reinforce concerns over the inadequate healthcare waste management including the use of small incinerators. None of the medical waste incinerators in this study could be considered to employ Best Available Techniques / Best Environmental Practices due to their design, operation, lack of pollution control and lack of waste management for the waste incineration residues. Changing the hospital waste stream by moving away from PVC products, source reduction, segregation, recycling, training, and use of autoclaves and other non-combustion methods should be prioritized. A hospital facility designed for healing should not pollute the food chain or cause adverse impacts on human health and the environment.
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Persistent Organic
Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs:
Report from Africa
APRIL, 2019
AUTHORS:
Jindřich Petrlik – Sam Adu-Kumi – Jonathan Hogarh – Eric Akortia
– Gilbert Kuepouo – Peter Behnisch – Lee Bell – Joseph DiGangi
Aliation of the authors:
1Arnika – Toxics and Waste Programme, Prague, Czech Republic
2IPEN, Gothenburg, Sweden
3Chemicals Control and Management Centre, Environmental Protection
Agency, Accra, Ghana.
4Department of Theoretical and Applied Biology, Kwame Nkrumah
University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana
5Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, National Nuclear Research Institute,
Accra, Ghana
6CREPD - Centre de Recherche et d‘Education pour le Développement,
Yaoundé, Cameroon
7BDS – BioDetection Systems, Amsterdam, Netherlands
8NTN – National Toxics Network, Australia
Jindřich Petrlik1,2 Sam Adu-Kumi3 Jonathan Hogarh4
Eric Akortia5 Gilbert Kuepouo6
Peter Behnisch7 Lee Bell2,8 Joseph DiGangi2
ACCRA YAOUNDÉ GOTHENBURG - PRAGUE
APRIL, 2019
Persistent Organic
Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs:
Africa
Report from
4
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
5
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
Photos from Agbogbloshie by Marn Holzknecht,
Arnika Associaon.
Execuve Summary �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������6
1� Introducon ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������7
2� Sampling and analycal methods ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 8
3� Descripon of hot spots ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������10
3�1 Ghana ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������10
3�1�1 Accra - Agbogbloshie, e-waste scrap yard �����������������������������������������������������������10
3�1�2 Accra – medical waste incinerator ���������������������������������������������������������������������12
3�1�3 Kumasi – medical waste incinerator ��������������������������������������������������������������������14
3�2 Cameroon ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 14
3�2�1 Yaoundé, medical waste incinerator �������������������������������������������������������������������14
3�2�2 Yaounde – waste dumpsites ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������14
4� Results and discussion ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 15
4�1 Free-range chicken eggs ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������15
4�1�1 Dioxins (PCDD/Fs) and other unintenonally produced POPs ����������������������������16
4�1�1�1 Dioxin-like acvity of eggs measured by using bioassay analyses ������������������18
4�1�1�2 PCDD/Fs and dl-PCBs ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������20
4�1�1�3 Hexachlorobenzene, pentachlorobenzene and hexachlorobutadiene �����������23
4�1�2 Non-dioxin-like PCBs �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������23
4�1�3 PBDD/Fs and BFRs in eggs ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 23
4�1�4 Short chain chlorinated parans (SCCPs) ����������������������������������������������������������� 25
4�1�5 Background levels of POPs in eggs ���������������������������������������������������������������������� 25
4�2 E-waste scrap yard ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 25
4�3 Dump sites ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 28
4�4 Waste incinerators �����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������29
5� Conclusions �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������34
6� Discussion & Policy Implicaons: ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������34
6�1 POPs waste and e-waste ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������34
6�2 Healthcare waste management ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������35
6�3 Environmental, food and human monitoring ������������������������������������������������������������36
7� Aknowledgements ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 36
8� Abbreviaons ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������36
9� References ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 38
Content
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Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
Executive Summary
Incineraon of medical waste and open burning of waste – including electronic waste – are potenally large
sources of toxic chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs)� These substances are slated for
global reducon and eliminaon under the Stockholm Convenon�
Medical waste incineraon and open burning are common in developing countries and both are listed in the
Stockholm Convenon as source categories for unintenonally-produced POPs such as hexachlorobenzene
(HCB), hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD), pentachlorobenzene (PeCB), PCBs, chlorinated dioxins/furans (PCDD/F),
and polychlorinated naphthalenes� Municipal and electronic waste is also known to contain other chemicals
listed in the Stockholm Convenon such as short chain chlorinated parans (SCCPs), polybrominated diphenyl
ethers (PBDEs) and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD)�
This study invesgated POPs contaminaon at a total of six sites: the world’s largest e-waste scrap yard in
Agbogbloshie (Ghana); medical waste incinerators in Accra (Ghana), Kumasi (Ghana) and Yaoundé (Cameroon);
and two open-burning waste dump sites in Yaoundé (Cameroon)� The study measured POPs in eggs because
free-range chickens are “acve samplers” of materials on the ground� Eggs also represent an important
human exposure pathway through consumpon� To our knowledge, this is the rst study to measure POPs
in free-range chicken eggs from hens foraging at the Agbogbloshie e-waste scrap yard, as well as in Yaoundé�
The key ndings of this study are:
High levels of POPs were found at all six sites
The sampling revealed very high levels of chlorinated dioxins, brominated dioxins, PCBs, PBDEs, and SCCPs in
the eggs of chickens that had foraged in areas at the e-waste scrap yard, open burning dump sites and medical
waste incinerators�
Some of the highest levels of POPs ever measured in eggs were found in
samples collected at the Agbogbloshie e-waste scrap yard in Ghana
Eggs sampled at the Agbogbloshie scrap yard in Ghana contained the highest level of brominated dioxins ever
measured in eggs and one of the highest ever measured levels of the ame retardant chemical, HBCD� These
eggs also contained the second highest level of chlorinated dioxins ever measured in poultry eggs� An adult
eang just one egg from a free-range chicken foraging in Agbogbloshie area would exceed the European Food
Safety Authority (EFSA) tolerable daily intake (TDI) for chlorinated dioxins by 220-fold� Indicator PCBs in these
eggs were four-fold higher than the EU standard and dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs were 171-fold higher than
the standard� These eggs also contained very high levels of SCCPs and PBDEs and relavely high levels of other
POPs such as PeCB and HCB�
Eggs sampled near medical waste incinerators exceeded EU dioxin standards
Eggs near the medical waste incinerator in Accra, Ghana exceeded the EU dioxin limit by 13-fold and eggs
sampled near the facility in Yaoundé exceeded the limit by more than two-fold� PCBs did not exceed limits,
but signicant levels were also found� High levels of HBCD were also found in eggs from the vicinity of the
Yaoundé waste incinerator and one of the dumpsites�
Stockholm and Basel Convenon provisions need strengthening
Hazardous waste limits in the Stockholm Convenon should prevent the export of POPs waste, including
e-waste� Currently the exisng and proposed limits for POPs found in e-waste and generated by its ‘recycling’
in Africa and other developing regions is far too weak and allows the trade to connue� This includes limits for
chlorinated dioxins/furans, ame retardant chemicals such as PBDEs and HBCD, and short chain chlorinated
parans� These stricter limits (dened as Low POP Content in the Stockholm Convenon) should be 50 mg/
kg for PBDEs, 100 mg/kg for HBCD and SCCPs and 1 μg TEQ/kg for PCDD/Fs at a maximum� The Stockholm
Convenon could be further strengthened by lisng brominated dioxins�
7
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
The current provisional e-waste guidelines under the Basel Convenon contain a loophole that allows for
e-waste export under the guise of ‘export for repair’� This industry-promoted loophole makes the guidelines
contradictory to the Convenon because electronic products at end-of-life are hazardous waste� This loophole
should be closed to preserve the integrity of the treaty
Greater aenon is needed to fully implement sustainable healthcare
waste management
The data obtained from egg samples near medical waste incinerators in this study reinforce concerns over the
inadequate healthcare waste management including the use of small incinerators� None of the medical waste
incinerators in this study could be considered to employ Best Available Techniques / Best Environmental
Pracces due to their design, operaon, lack of polluon control and lack of waste management for the
waste incineraon residues� Changing the hospital waste stream by moving away from PVC products, source
reducon, segregaon, recycling, training, and use of autoclaves and other non-combuson methods should
be priorized� A hospital facility designed for healing should not pollute the food chain or cause adverse
impacts on human health and the environment�
1. Introduction
POPs contaminaon in developing countries can include both domesc and foreign sources� Two potenally
large sources are incineraon of domesc medical waste and open burning of waste – including electronic
waste (e-waste) that comes from developed countries� Both types of sources are listed in the Stockholm
Convenon as source categories for unintenonally-produced POPs� In addion, electronic waste is known to
contain short chain chlorinated parans (SCCPs) and ame retardant chemicals listed in the treaty
Medical waste incineraon is a major dioxin source, primarily due to combuson of PVC plasc which is
a dominant source of organically bound chlorine [1]� The health sector is also a source of mercury polluon
due to improper disposal of mercury-containing thermometers and sphygmomanometers� The Stockholm
Convenon Guidelines on Best Available Techniques and Guidance on Best Environmental Pracces note
concerns over small hospital incinerators and that, “Due to the poor design, operaon, equipment and
monitoring of many exisng small hospital incinerators these installaons cannot be regarded as employing
best available techniques” [2]� In developing countries, medical waste is oen not segregated by type and
pollung open pit and single chamber incinerators are common� Succesful implementaon of medical waste
management and non-combuson techniques has been demonstrated in developing countries [3-6]�
Global esmates of annual e-waste producon exceed 40 million tons with an annual growth rate of 4 to 5
percent [7]� The export of electronic waste from developed countries to developing countries [8], under the
guise of ‘recycling’, ‘repair’ and/or ‘reuse’, has eecvely become a form of hazardous waste dumping that
internaonal agreements such as the Basel Convenon or Stockholm Convenon were created to prevent�
In this study, free-range chicken eggs were used to invesgate POPs contaminaon in Cameroon and Ghana
near medical waste incinerators and open burning dumpsites including a large e-waste site� Free-range
chicken eggs are sensive indicators of POP contaminaon in soils/dust and represent an important human
exposure pathway [9-11]� As “acve samplers” they can be used to reveal POPs contaminaon, parcularly in
areas impacted by dioxins (PCDD/Fs) and PCBs [12-17]�
This study invesgated POPs contaminaon at the Agbogbloshie e-waste scrap yard (Ghana), medical waste
incinerators in Accra (Ghana), Kumasi (Ghana) and Yaoundé (Cameroon), and two open-burning waste dump
sites in Yaoundé (Cameroon)� To our knowledge, this is the rst study to measure POPs in free-range chicken
eggs from hens foraging at the Agbogbloshie e-waste scrap yard, and in Yaoundé as well�
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Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
2. Sampling and analytical methods
The samples of free-range chicken eggs, soil and waste incineraon residues discussed in this report were
sampled during second half of 2018� Their analyses were conducted in European laboratories in the period
between October 2018 and February 2019�
Six pooled samples of free-range chicken eggs were collected in three African cies: Yaoundé, the capital of
Cameroon; Accra, the capital of Ghana; and Kumasi, Ghana� Samples of soil, ash or soot were also sampled
at sampling sites in Ghana� As performed in other studies, a sample of eggs purchased in a supermarket
(in Accra) served as a background sample as it was from not free-range chickens [14]� Six localies in three
cies were expected to be contaminated by POPs and parculary unintenonally produced POPs (UPOPs) to
a certain level� A basic descripon of these six localies can be found later in this report (see chapter 3)�
Pooled samples of more individual egg samples were collected at each of the selected sampling sites in order
to obtain more representave samples� Table 1 summarizes the basic data about the size of samples and the
measured levels of fat content in each of the pooled samples� All samples were taken in 2018�
Free-range chicken eggs from the four pooled samples (one sample from Yaoundé and three samples
from Ghana) and one pooled sample of commercial eggs (non free-range) from Accra were analyzed for
polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs)1 and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (dl-
PCBs) using the DR CALUX® method� These were sent to a Dutch ISO 17025 cered laboratory (BioDetecon
Systems B�V�, Amsterdam) performing the cell-based screening analysis DR CALUX® according to the European
Standard EC/644/2017� The procedure for the BDS DR CALUX® bioassay has previously been described in detail
[18]� Briey, rat liver H4IIE cells stably transfected with an AhR-controlled luciferase reporter gene construct
were cultured in an α-MEM culture medium supplemented with 10% (v/v) FCS under standard condions
(37ºC, 5% CO2, 100% humidity)� Cells were exposed in triplicate on 96-well microter plates containing the
standard 2,3,7,8-TCDD calibraon range, a reference egg sample (analysed by HRGC-HRMS; for the bioassay
apparent recovery), a procedure blank, a DMSO blank and the sample extracts in DMSO� Following a 24-hour
incubaon period, cells were lysed� A luciferin containing soluon was added and the luminescence was
measured by using a luminometer (Mithras, Berthold Centro XS3)�
Table 1: Overview of samples of chicken eggs, soil and waste incineraon residues from selected sites in Cameroon and Ghana.
No� Sample Locality Matrix Month/Year
of sampling
Eggs in pooled samples;
No� of points sampled
(soil/ash)
Fat
content
(%)
1YA- 1 Yaoundé - TCK Quart� Eggs 08/2018 619�6
2YA- 1 Yaoundé - hospital Eggs 08/2018 514�6
3YA- 1 Yaoundé - Etetak Quart� Eggs 08/2018 614�3
4ACC-M-E Accra (supermarket) Eggs 12/2018 68�8
5AGB-E Accra - Agbogbloshie Eggs 12/2018 414�7
6AGB-S-1 Accra - Agbogbloshie Soil 12/2018 4-
7KBI-E Accra - hospital Eggs 12/2018 612�3
8KBI-A-1 Accra - hospital Ash/soil 12/2018 5-
9KU-E Kumasi - hospital Eggs 12/2018 514�7
10 KU-A-1 Kumasi - hospital Soot 12/2018 NA -
The DR CALUX® bioassay method has been shown to be a cost-ecient semi-quantave eect-based toxicity
screening analyses for all kinds of stable dioxin-like compounds (PCDD/Fs, dl-PCBs, PBDD/Fs, PBBs, chlorinated
and brominated polycyclic aromac hydrocarbons, N-dioxins)2 ; however, for conrmaon it is recommended
1 Synonym „dioxins“ is used for this group of chemicals as well, while „brominated dioxins“ applies for PBDD/Fs, another group of
polyhalogenated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans� We use both these shorter synonyms in this report�
2 ‘‘Bioanalycal methods‘‘ means methods based on the use of biological principles like cell-based assays, receptorassays or
immunoassays� They do not give results at the congener level but merely an indicaon of the TEQ level, expressed in Bioanalycal
9
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
to go for more specic PCDD/Fs and dl-PCBs congener specic analyses, which also allows examinaon of
nger prints of dioxins (PCDD/F congener paerns), specic for dierent sources of polluon� One sample
from a Yaoundé representave site was potenally inuenced by both waste incineraon and open burning
of medical waste� All pooled egg samples from Ghana as well as samples of soil, ash and soot were analyzed
for content of individual PCDD/Fs and an extended list of PCB congeners by HRGC-HRMS at the accredited
laboratory of the State Veterinary Instute in Prague, Czech Republic�
All samples were also analyzed for content of non-dioxin-like (indicator) PCBs (i-PCBd), DDT and its
metabolites, hexachlorocyclohexanes (HCHs), hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD), pentachlorobenzene (PeCB) and
hexachlorobenzene (HCB) in a Czech cered laboratory (University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague,
Department of Food Chemistry and Analysis)� The analytes were extracted by a mixture of organic solvents
hexane: dichloromethane (1:1)� The extracts were cleaned by means of gel permeaon chromatography
(GPC)� The idencaon and quancaon of the analyte was conducted by gas chromatography coupled
with tandem mass spectrometry detecon in electron ionizaon mode�
The eggs from Yaoundé, Agbogbloshie and the Accra supermarket as well as soil/ash samples from Agbogbloshie
were also analyzed for PBDEs and HBCD� Three samples (eggs from Agbogbloshie, Accra supermarket and
soil/ash from Agbogbloshie) were also analyzed for novel BFRs3 (nBFRs), tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) and
short chain chlorinated parans (SCCPs)� All of these analyses were conducted in a Czech cered laboratory
(Instute of Chemical Technology, Department of Food Chemistry and Analysis)�
Idencaon and quancaon of PBDEs and nBFRs were performed using gas chromatography coupled with
mass spectrometry in negave ion chemical ionizaon mode (GC-MS-NICI)� Idencaon and quancaon
of HBCD isomers were performed by liquid chromatography interfaced with tandem mass spectrometry with
electrospray ionizaon in negave mode (UHPLC-MS/MS-ESI)�
The extract which was prepared same way as for the other analyses was transferred into cyclohexane and
diluted� Idencaon and quancaon of SCCPs was accessed via gas chromatography/me-of-ight high
resoluon mass spectrometry (GC/TOF-HRMS) in the mode of negave chemical ionizaon (NCI)� The free-
range chicken egg samples from the Agbogbloshie scrap yard, the control group chicken egg sample from
supermarket in Accra and mixed soil/ash samples from Agbogbloshie, were also analysed for polybrominated
dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PBDD/Fs) in MAS laboratory, Muenster, Germany� Accredited method
MAS_PA002, ISO/IEC 17025:2005 was used to determine PBDD/Fs� The basic steps of the analyses can be
summarized as follows:
»Addion of 13C12-labelled PBDD/F internal standards to the sample extract
»Mul-step chromatographic clean-up of the extract
» Addion of 13C12-labelled PBDD/F - recovery standards
» HRGC/HRMS analysis
» Quancaon via the internal labelled PBDD/F-standards (isotope diluon technique and internal standard
technique)�
Equivalents (BEQ) to acknowledge the fact that not all compounds present in a sample extract that produce a response in the test
may obey all requirements of the TEQ-principle [19]� European Commission, Commission Regulaon (EU) No 252/2012 of 21 March
2012 laying down methods of sampling and analysis for the ocial control of levels of dioxins, dioxin-like PCBs and non-dioxin-like
PCBs in certain foodstus and repealing Regulaon (EC) No 1883/2006 Text with EEA relevance European Commission, Editor� 2012:
Ocial Journal of the European Communies� p� L 84, 23�3�2012, p� 1–22�
3 This group of chemicals is represented by following chemicals: 1,2-bis(2,4,6-tribromophenoxy) ethane (BTBPE),
decabromodiphenyl ethane (DBDPE), hexabromobenzene (HBB), octabromo-1,3,3-trimethylpheny-1-indan (OBIND),
2,3,4,5,6-pentabromoethylbenzene (PBEB), and pentabromotoluene (PBT)�
10
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
3. Description of hot spots
Localies chosen for sampling in Ghana and Cameroon were sites where higher exposure to unintenonally
produced POPs, such as dioxins were expected due to the acvies on or near the sites� Those sites were
of two categories: 1) sites with open burning of waste, and electronic waste in parcular (dumpsites and
e-waste scrap yards), and 2) medical waste incinerators� Most of them were located in capitals of these two
African countries� One site in Ghana was located in Kumasi which is the second largest city in the country�
Each site is described more detailed in the following text�
3.1 Ghana
3.1.1 Accra - Agbogbloshie, e-waste scrap yard
Agbogbloshie is part of Ghana’s capital city Accra� It is the nickname of a commercial district on the Korle
Lagoon of the Odaw River, near the city center� It became known as a desnaon for automobile and electronic
scrap collected from Accra, but also from many other locaons� Roughly 40,000 Ghanaians inhabited the area
of Agbogbloshie according the esmates made between years 2009 - 2011, most of whom are migrants from
rural areas [20]� In 2018, the populaon is esmated to be even higher� Oteng-Ababio et al� [21] claim that
this selement now serves over 80,000 people�
The Agbogbloshie market and scrap yard is situated on at ground alongside the Densu River� During periods
of heavy rainfall much of the site becomes ooded and, during these mes, it is likely that surface dusts
and soils, along with any chemical contaminant that may contain, are carried into the adjacent, lower-lying
lagoons and the Densu river which ulmately ows into the ocean� For more details about the locaon, see
Figure 1�
The Basel Acon Network (BAN) has referred to Agbogbloshie as a “digital dumping ground”� Its recent report
conrmed Ghana as one of the desnaons for used electronics (in fact e-waste) exported from European
Union�There have been numerous stories in the press over the years about Agbogbloshie, and with it much
denial by some that the locaon is really a signicant global dumpsite for imported electronic waste,states
BAN in its recent report [8]� Prior studies have shown that Agbogbloshie recycling site received approximately
171,000 tonnes of e-waste in 2009, which were exclusively processed through informal pracces [22]�
11
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
At Agbogbloshie, the main electronic wastes being processed are obsolete computers, monitors and televisions�
These are manually dismantled at numerous small workshops within the market� Certain materials, mainly
plasc coated wires and cables, are subsequently taken to sites on the edge of the market where they are
burned to enable the separaon of metals from plascs� This work is commonly done by children or very
young men�
Concerns remain over methods of waste processing at Agbogbloshie scrap yard, especially burning eming
toxic chemicals into the air, land and waterExposure is especially hazardous to children, as toxic chemicals
released due to acvies at the site are known to inhibit the development of the reproducve system, the
nervous system, and development of the brain� Concerns about human health and the environment of
Agbogbloshie connue to be raised as the area remains heavily polluted [20]�
Figure 1: Map of the Agbogbloshie market and scrap yard area. Source: [23],
12
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
A number of studies have focused on various consequences of this e-waste and car scrap yard in Accra as
it raises not only concerns regarding the environmental polluon but also its social aspects [23-26] such as
poverty of the community living at this site and related economic perspecves [27]�
Previous studies found serious contaminaon of the air, soil, sediments or water by various contaminants
including heavy metals [28, 29], polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) [28, 30], polychlorinated biphenyls
(PCBs) [31, 32], polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCNs) [33], chlorinated and brominated polycyclic aromac
hydrocarbons [34], and polychlorinated as well as polybrominated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans
(PCDD/Fs, PBDD/Fs) [31, 35, 36]�
Other studies focused on levels of PCDD/Fs [37] and/or lead [38] in blood, PCBs in breast milk [39], and PAHs
[40] or heavy metals in urine [41, 42] of workers at the Agbogbloshie scrap yard� Health aspects of living
and working at Agbogbloshie was a topic discussed in separate studies [43-45]� Huang et al� [46] focused on
eects of contaminaon on water organisms in Korle Lagoon�
Some reports looked at the situaon in the Agbogbloshie scrap yard from broader perspecve [24, 26, 47-51]�
In addion to this major site in Accra itself, smaller e-waste recycling and disposal operaons can be found
in other cies� For example, a scrap yard in Koforidua, a smaller city to the north of Accra, is thought to be
typical of these numerous small e-waste recycling operaons within Ghana, engaged in similar acvies to
those at Agbogbloshie, but on a far smaller scale [47]�
3.1.2 Accra – medical waste incinerator
A small medical waste incinerator in Accra was second site chosen for sampling�
The chosen hospital used a locally built small-scale DeMonort type of medical waste incineratorIt had
„…an in-built drier that could dry wet waste very fast and a burning chamber for ve tons of waste which could
burn completely within three hours“ [52]� Adjacent to the incinerator is the ash dump site where the boom
ash and some y ash was disposed of aer incineraon� This waste incinerator started operaon in 2004 and
stopped working several years ago� However, the ash dumpsite was le next to the waste incineratorThere
is family living in a house next to the waste incinerator and raising chickens which have access to whole area
including the ash dumpsite�
This waste incinerator was studied by Adama et al� [52]� Their study has focused on heavy metals in ash and
soil in the area surrounding the waste incinerator� They ancipated: … that connuous exposure to heavy
metals in ash and soil may pose direct health risk to waste workers at the incinerator site and unauthorized
persons who come to the waste incineraon area and remotely through the consumpon of exposed plants
and animals that may have accumulated heavy metals in their ssues and water sources contaminated with
heavy metals or by the inhalaon of heavy metal laden dust from polluted soils or ash [52]�
The Stockholm Convenon has idened waste incineraon as a sector “for comparavely high formaon
and release” of persistent organic pollutants such as dioxins, furans, PCBs, hexachlorobenzene and
pentachlorobenzene [53]�
13
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
Figure 2: Sampling of ash next to the
medical waste ininerator in Accra.
Photo: Marn Holzknecht, Arnika.
14
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
3.1.3 Kumasi – medical waste incinerator
In Kumasi we have chosen one of the small medical waste incinerators and its neighborhood as the sampling
site� The waste incinerator burns waste only from the hospital once per week� This waste incinerator does
not store ash in the area of the hospital but it is collected by a waste management company for disposal
elsewhere� The waste incinerator does not have any air polluon abatement� It has a chimney approximately
10 m high� It has operated for 8 years now
3.2 Cameroon
3.2.1 Yaoundé, medical waste incinerator
In order to address the negave impacts of improper disposal of medical wastes, especially contaminated
sharps from the Cameroonian health care facilies, low-cost small-scale incinerators with very short chimenies
are constructed and used in urban and rural hospitals� For this study, we choose the Mimboman health care
centre located in the Eastern of the City of Yaoundé, the polical capital of Cameroon� This healthcare centre
is located in a densely populated residenal area� The low cost incinerator operates with gasoline a couple
of days in a week or so� Categories of wastes incinerated include plascs and other materials containing
polyvinyl chloride, syringes and needles, and biological residues� Ashes from the incinerators are buried in
open pits close to the incinerator� Both the incinerator and the open pits are within the hospital premises, less
than 100 m to the nearby homes�
3.2.2 Yaounde – waste dumpsites
Based on the criteria of close proximity with homes where free-range chicken are raised, the composite
nature of the waste dumped (organic maer, cardboard, plascs, electronics, cables, tyres, etc…); two waste
dumpsites subjected to regular open burning as way to reduce the waste stockpile volume were selected in
the city of Yaoundé, the polical capital of Cameroon� The two sites are located in the Etetak and TCK quarters
in Yaoundé�
Figure 3: Small medical waste incinerator in Kumasi chosen for
sampling in this second largest city of Ghana.
Photo: Marn Holzknecht, Arnika.
Figure 4: Photo shows small medical waste incinerator in
Yaoundé, in which surrounding the eggs were sampled.
Photo by CREPD.
15
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
4. Results and discussion
4.1 Free-range chicken eggs
Results of chemical analyses of six free-range chicken eggs samples from Yaoundé, Accra and Kumasi for
various POPs are summarized in Table 2� Details about sampling and sampled localies are in chapters 2 and
3� Their evaluaon is discussed further in separate subchapters according the natural groups of POPs� There is
no special subchapter dedicated to organochlorine pescides in these eggs, DDT and metabolites and HCHs as
they were not found in very high levels in our samples in comparison with samples from some other locaons
in Africa, e�g� eggs from Vikuge, Tanzania sampled in 2005 with observed level of DDT at 7041 ng g-1 fat [54]�
Table 2: Overview of results of chemical analyses for POPs in six free-range chicken egg samples, and one egg sample from
a commercial farm from two African countries, Cameroon and Ghana. Samples were taken in 2018. Levels of POPs are in ng g-1 fat
if not specied otherwise.
Locality
Yaoundé-
TCK
Quart�
Yaoundé
-hospital
Yaoundé-Ete-
tak Quart�
Accra –
Agbogbl�
Accra -
hospital
Kumasi
- hospi-
tal
Accra-su-
per-market
EU
stand�/
limits
Sample YA- 1 YA- 2 YA- 3 AGB-E KBI-E KU-E ACC-M-E
Fat content
(%) 19�6 14�6 14�3 14�7 12�3 14�7 8�8
PCDD/Fs (pg
TEQ g-1 fat) NA 4�6 NA 661 49 1�7 0�39 2�50
DL PCBs (pg
TEQ g-1 fat) NA 6�8 NA 195 14 0�86 0�17
Total PCDD/F
+ DL PCBs (pg
TEQ g-1 fat)
NA 11�4 NA 856 63 2�6 0�56 5�00
PCDD/Fs DR
CALUX (pg
BEQ g-1 fat)
NA 4�5 NA NA NA NA NA
Total PCDD/
Fs + DL PCBs -
DR CALUX (pg
BEQ g-1 fat)
NA 9�6 NA 840 56 5�2 1�2
PBDD/Fs (pg
TEQ g-1 fat) NA NA NA 300 NA NA < 8�5
HCB 1�5 1�4 7�1 25�1 3�63 0�76 < 0�2 -
PeCB 0�56 0�35 4�7 22�4 2�88 < 0�2 < 0�2
HCBD < 0�1 < 0�1 < 0�1 < 0�2 < 0�2 < 0�2 < 0�2
7 PCB 28 32 36 286 7�8 < 1�4 < 1�4 -
6 PCB 27 30 34 168 7�8 < 1�2 < 1�2 40�00
PCNs * NA NA NA < 1�4 NA NA < 1�4 -
SCCPs NA NA 149 2067 NA NA 62
sum HCH 4�5 2�5 7�6 < 0�6 < 0�6 < 0�6 < 0�6
sum DDT 39 22 36 9�7 79 0�82 < 1�2
*Seven PCN congeners were measured: PCN 52, 56, 66, 70, 73, 74 and 75.
Measured levels of POPs in chicken eggs were compared with legislave limits established in the European
Union, although not all measured chemicals in this study have dened limits� For example, the European Union
does not currently have a limit for brominated ame retardants or PBDD/Fs in chicken eggs� Limit values for
eggs are summarized in Table 3� These limits are used for comparison with levels measured in food in many
other studies, mainly in developing countries which do not have limits for dioxins and other POPs in food�
16
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
Table 3: Limit concentraon values for OCPs, PCBs and PCDD/Fs-TEQs in chicken eggs.
Hen eggs
EU ML1EU MRL2
Unit pg g-1 fat ng g-1 fresh weight
WHO-PCDD/Fs TEQ 2�5 -
WHO-PCDD/Fs-dl-PCB TEQ 5�0 -
PCBs340 -
HCB -20
DDT total4-50
γ-HCH (lindane) -10
α-, β-HCH* -20, 10
Notes to the Table:
1EU Regulaon (EC) N°1259/2011� Maximum level (ML) – food with PCDD/Fs and dl-PCBs concentraons
above this level is considered to be contaminated and is not suggested for consumpon�
2Regulaon (EC) N°149/2008� Maximum residue level (MRL) means the upper legal level of a concentraon
for a pescide residue in or on food or feed set in accordance with the Regulaon, based on good agricultural
pracce and the lowest consumer exposure necessary to protect vulnerable consumers�
3sum of PCB28, PCB52, PCB101, PCB138, PCB153 and PCB180
4sum of p,p´-DDT, o,p´-DDT, p,p´-DDE and p,p´-DDD
*MRL is set separately for each isomer
4.1.1 Dioxins (PCDD/Fs) and other unintentionally produced POPs
Annex C of the Stockholm Convenon lists six unintenonally-produced POPs: HCB, hexachlorobutadiene
(HCBD), pentachlorobenzene (PeCB), PCBs, PCDD/F, and polychlorinated naphthalenes� Eggs measured in
this study contained HCB, HCBD, PeCB, PCBs, and PCDD/Fs� Polychlorinated naphthalenes were not measured
only in two egg samples and one soil sample (see chapter 4�2)� They were below LOQ in egg samples�
PCDD/Fs and dl-PCBs
Dioxins belong to a group of 75 polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxin (PCDD) congeners and 135 polychlorinated
dibenzofuran (PCDF) congeners, of which 17 are of toxicological concern� Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
are a group of 209 dierent congeners that can be divided into two groups according to their toxicological
properes: 12 congeners exhibit toxicological properes similar to dioxins and are therefore oen referred
to as ‘dioxin-like PCBs’ (dl-PCBs)� The other PCBs do not exhibit dioxin-like toxicity, but have a dierent
toxicological prole and are referred to as ‘non dioxin-like PCBs’ (ndl-PCBs) [55]� Technical mixtures of PCBs
are characterized by 6, somemes also 7 indicator PCB congeners (i-PCBs)� Levels of PCDD/Fs and dl-PCBs are
expressed in total WHO-TEQ calculated according to toxic equivalency factors (TEFs) set by a WHO experts
panel in 2005 [56]� These new TEFs were used to evaluate dioxin-like toxicity in pooled samples of chicken
eggs from two African countries as well as in sampled soil and waste incineraon residues from Ghana (see
Tables 2 and 8)�
Chlorinated dioxins (PCDD/Fs) are known to be extremely toxic� Numerous epidemiologic studies have
revealed a variety of human health eects linked to chlorinated dioxin exposure including cardiovascular
disease, diabetes, cancer, porphyria, endometriosis, early menopause, alteraon of testosterone and thyroid
hormones, and altered immune system response among others [57, 58]� Laboratory animals given dioxins
suered a variety of eects, including an increase in birth defects and sllbirths� Fish exposed to these
substances died shortly aer the exposure ended� Food (parcularly from animals) is the major source of
exposure for humans [59]�
17
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
Chlorinated dioxins became known to the public in the 1970s as a result of their contaminaon of Agent
Orange, a defoliant pescide mixture sprayed by the US during the Vietnam war4 The producon of 2,4,5 T
pescide as basic ingredient for Agent Orange le one of the most seriously contaminated sites in Europe
[61-63] and sick workers with many symptoms of exposure to most toxic of dioxin congeners 2,3,7,8-TCDD
[64, 65]�
PeCB and HCB
PeCB and HCB are primarily produced unintenonally during combuson, as well as thermal and industrial
processes� In the past, they were produced intenonally as pescides or technical substances and present
as impuries in products such as solvents or pescides� PeCB was used as a component in PCB products, in
dyestu carriers, as a fungicide, a ame retardant and as a chemical intermediate for the producon of the
pescide, quintozene [66]� In high doses, HCB is lethal to some animals and, at lower levels, adversely aects
their reproducve success� HCB has been found in food of all types [59]� Pentachlorobenzene is very toxic to
aquac organisms and may cause long-term adverse eects in the aquac environment [67]�
HCBD
HCBD occurs as a by-product during the the producon of chlorinated hydrocarbons such as perchloroethylene,
trichloroethylene and carbon tetrachloride� It is also formed unintenonally during incineraon processes
including incineraon processes of acetylene and incineraon of chlorine residues� Perchloroethylene is
widely used in dry cleaning and trichloroethylene and carbone tetrachloride have been used extensively
as degreasing agents and as a solvents for other chlorine-containing compounds� HCBD is very toxic to
aquac organisms and causes kidney damage and cancer in animal studies and chromosomal aberraons in
occupaonally-exposed humans [68]� Systemic toxicity following exposure via oral, inhalaon, and dermal
routes� Other eects may include fay liver degeneraon, epithelial necrozing nephris, central nervous
system depression and cyanosis [59]�
PBDD/Fs
There are also other unintenonally produced POPs that are not yet listed in the Stockholm Convenon�
The most relevant groups of unintenonally produced POPs to the sampled site in Agbogbloshie, Ghana are
polybrominated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PBDD/Fs),5 which were analyzed in samples from this
site� Results for brominated dioxins are discussed in one subchapter together with BFRs (see 4�1�3) as they
have been known to be potenal by-products of commercial PBDE mixtures since 1986 [69]� This is similar to
the chlorinated dioxins which have been observed as impuries in PCBs, and other chlorinated chemicals�
PBDFs have also found to be formed by sunlight exposure during normal use, as well as during disposal/
recycling processes of ame-retarded consumer products [70]� PBDD/Fs are similar to the PCDD/Fs however
they have been studied less extensively than their chlorinated analogues�
PBDDs/F have been found to exhibit similar toxicity and health eects as their chlorinated analogues (PCDD/
Fs) [71-75]� They can for example aect brain development, damage the immune system and fetus or induce
carcinogenesis [75]�
“Both groups of compounds show similar eects, such as inducon of aryl hydrocarbon hydroxylase (AHH)/
EROD acvity, and toxicity, such as inducon of wasng syndrome, thymic atrophy, and liver toxicity” [73].
4 According to esmates provided by the Government of Vietnam, 400,000 people were killed or maimed by the pescide; 500,000
children were born with birth defects ranging from retardaon to spina bida; and a further two million people have suered
cancers or other illnesses, which can be also related to dioxins as impuries in the Agent Orange mixture� It is esmated that in
total, the equivalent of at least 366 kilograms of pure dioxin were dropped� 60� York, G� and H� Mick� Last ghost‘ of the Vietnam
War� 2008 April 27, 2018 [cited 2018 19-11-2018]; Available from: hps://www�theglobeandmail�com/incoming/last-ghost-of-the-
vietnam-war/arcle1057457/?page=all�
5 Synonym „brominated dioxins“ is used for this group of chemicals as well, while „dioxins“ applies for PCDD/Fs� We use both these
shorter synonyms in this report�
18
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
In general, brominated dioxins are less regulated than chlorinated dioxins� For example, PBDD/Fs are not
currently listed under the Stockholm Convenon [53], although there is clear evidence that they contain very
similar properes to PCDD/Fs, which have been listed in Annex C of the Convenon since its origin in 2001�
In 2010, the Stockholm Convenon POPs Review Commiee recommended further assessment of PBDD/
Fs including, “releases from smelters and other thermal recovery technologies, including secondary metal
industries, cement kilns and feedstock recycling technologies” [76].
Because brominated dioxins tend to be less regulated, there is less data about their presence in the
environment� There is also very lile informaon about their presence in consumer products and food, where
they can have direct impacts on human health, including in vulnerable groups such as children and women
of childbearing age�
4.1.1.1 Dioxin-like activity of eggs measured by using bioassay analyses
Several bioanalycal tools tools are accepted by internaonal standards6 for measuring dioxin-like acvity
of environmental and food the samples� These methods are an easier and more cost-ecient opon for
screening larger quanes of environmental, food or human samples, and many studies use it to evaluate
such contaminaons by dioxins and dioxin-like substances, e�g� for food [77-80]� Five pooled egg samples in
this study were analyzed by the DR CALUX® method� The highest level in BEQs was measured in the sample
from Agbogbloshie (840 pg BEQ g-1 fat) followed by a sample from the medical waste incinerator in Accra (56
pg BEQ g-1 fat)� Also samples from the Yaoundé hospital site and the Kumasi hospital were suspected not to
meet the EU limit for PCDD/Fs + dl-PCBs (5 pg TEQ g-1 fat)�
All sample results measured by DR CALUX® method (see Table 2; total PCDD/F + dl-PCBs – DR CALUX in pg BEQ
g-1 fat) were also in the same order of magnitude in the chemical HRGC/HRMS analysis for PCDD/F + dl-PCBs
-TEQ (see Table 2; total PCDD/F + dl-PCBs in pg TEQ g-1 fat):
»Yaoundé - hospital (DR CALUX 9,6 vs chemical analysis 11,4; therefore non-compliant according EU
guidelines);
»Agbogbloshie (DR CALUX 840 vs chemical analysis 856; therefore non-compliant according EU guidelines);
» Accra - hospital (DR CALUX 56 vs chemical analysis 63; therefore non-compliant according EU guidelines);
» Kumasi - hospital (DR CALUX 5,2 vs chemical analysis 2,6; therefore above acon levels from EU guidelines)
and nally the only in the EU compliant egg samples from the
» Accra - supermarket (DR CALUX 1,2 vs chemical analysis 0,56)�
Another study conducted in Arusha, Tanzania found several composite egg samples suspected of exceeding
the EU standard of 5 pg TEQ g-1 fat with the highest BEQ concentraon found in a sample from Kwamrefu of
20�4 pg BEQ g-1 fat [77], which is higher than that measured in eggs from Yaoundé but lower than eggs from
Accra - hospital, most likely inuenced by waste incinerator ash le in the area where hens forage�
Posive DR CALUX® acvies were measured in 82% of the twenty seven egg samples from Arusha in a study
carried out in 2012 [77]� There are several small industries in Arusha and two large regional referral hospitals
[1]� Emission from these and uncontrolled burning of waste close to or within the backyards where chickens
are scavenging may be the main pathways of dioxin contaminaon for the chicken in Arusha [77]� This
situaon is similar to the places sampled in Yaoundé�
Bioassay analyses of eggs and other environmental samples could be a pathway to broader monitoring of
dioxin contaminaon in African countries�
6 Those standards are such as EC/644/2017, EPA 4435/2008, JIS 463/2009, Dutch Specie 07/2005 and the Chinese standard for Solid
waste—Screening of PCDD/Fs—Chemical acvated luciferase expression, 2018�
19
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
20
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
4.1.1.2 PCDD/Fs and dl-PCBs
Three out of four free-range chicken egg samples in this study analyzed for PCDD/Fs and dl-PCBs by instrumental
analysis exceeded the EU maximum level (ML) of PCDD/Fs and sum of PCDD/Fs and dl-PCBs, expressed as
WHO-TEQ (see Table 5) [55]� The background levels for PCDD/Fs and dl-PCBs measured in chicken eggs from
a supermarket in Accra were 0�39 and 0�17 pg WHO-TEQ g-1 fat, respecvelyThe highest level of dioxins
(661 pg WHO-TEQ g-1 fat) and dl-PCBs (195 pg WHO-TEQ g-1 fat), respecvely, were measured in eggs from
Agbogbloshie scrap yard, sampled in a slum close to Korle lagoon in the middle of the area�
The second highest levels of PCDD/Fs and dl-PCBs in this study, 49 and 14 WHO-TEQ g-1 fat respecvely,
were measured in eggs sampled from the area close to the closed down medical waste incinerator in Accra�
There is waste incineraon ash le in that area accessible to foraging hens� However, the dioxin paern in
the eggs shows that other contaminaon sources might also be contribung dioxins (see graph at Figure
8)� The intake of dierent dioxin congeners and their bioavailability and transfer into eggs may also dier
according a recent study: The data indicate that the bioaccumulaon rate depended on the congener; that
is, the lower chlorinated PCDDs/PCDFs congeners showed higher bioaccumulaon than the higher chlorinated
PCDDs/PCDFs congeners“ [81]�
The only sample from Yaoundé analyzed for PCDD/Fs + dl-PCBs from the vicinity of the small medical waste
incinerator and open re pit had levels of PCDD/Fs and total WHO-TEQ levels of 4�6 and 11�4 pg WHO-TEQ g-1
fat respecvely� Both levels exceeded the EU ML, by approximately two-fold� It is necessary to note that the
scenario of the sampling in this case was a bit dierent from other samples as it is a pooled sample from six
dierent households in radius of 0�3 km in all direcons from the hospital� So, it reects the overall situaon
in the area�
All samples were above the background level of WHO-TEQ measured in eggs from the supermarket by almost
5-fold (Kumasi - hospital) to 1528-fold (Agbogbloshie sample)� Dioxin levels in samples from Agbogbloshie
and Accra - hospital are among 15 egg samples with the highest ever measured levels of PCDD/Fs (see graph
at Figure 5)� Sample of eggs from Agbogbloshie with 661 pg WHO-TEQ g-1 fat of PCDD/Fs is the second highest
ever measured level of these chemicals in eggs globally The highest level was found only in samples of
poultry eggs during the dioxin scandal in Belgium in 1999 [82]� It is a level almost six-mes higher than the
highest concentraon of PCDD/Fs measured in free range chicken eggs in IPEN study from 2005 in eggs
sampled in Helwan, Egypt – a site with metallurgical plants and a coal-based chemical and cement industry
(125 pg WHO-TEQ g-1 fat) [14]�
Almost 50 pg WHO-TEQ g-1 fat of PCDD/Fs in eggs from the Accra hospital site is comparable with levels in
another sample (unpublished data) from a site inuenced by a secondary aluminium smelter in Indonesia (see
Table 4), and also comparable to the highest level of PCDD/Fs in free-range eggs from Newcastle alotments
in the area where the incineraon ash from the Byker waste incinerator was used to pave the path between
alotments in 2000 [16]� It is also close to the highest level of PCDD/Fs and dl-PCBs measured in BEQs in pooled
egg samples from another site with impact from waste incineraon y ash in an UK farm in Bishops Cleeve
[83] (see Table 9 in this report)�
Dioxin-like PCBs were lower in comparison with PCDD/Fs in most of samples but Yaoundé – hospital sample,
where dl-PCBs were prevailing, and contributed by almost 60% to total WHO-TEQ in eggs� In all other egg
samples dl-PCBs contributed by ¼ to 1/3 of the to total WHO-TEQ value� Highest level of dl-PCBs of 195 pg
WHO-TEQ g-1 fat was measured in eggs from Agbogbloshie� The lowest dl-PCBs in free range eggs had sample
from Kumasi – hospital site, 0�86 pg WHO-TEQ g-1 fat, which exceeded the background level in eggs from the
supermarket by 5-fold�
21
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
0
25
50
75
100
125
150
175
200
225
250
Belgium (2007)
Mexico, Coatzacoalcos (2005)
Uruguay, Minas (2009)
Kenya, Dandora (2004)
Ukraine, Krivyi Ryh (2018)
Czechia, Libis (2002)
Germany (1993)
Poland (2011)
Taiwan (2005)
Uzbekistan, Chimbay (2001)
Senegal, Mbeubeuss (2005)
Germany (1993-96)
Italy - Piedmont (2012)
Russia, Igumnovo (2005)
USA, Saginaw River (2002)
Ghana - Accra - hospital (2018)
Indonesia - Kendalsari (2018)
UK - Newcastle (2002)
Portugal (2008)
Bulgaria, Kovachevo (2005)
Thailand - Samut Sakhon (2015)
France - Maincy (2004)
Egypt, Helwan (2005)
Vietnam - Bien Hoa (2011)
Germany - Rheinfelden (1992)
Ghana - Agbogbloshie (2018)
Belgium (1999)
514
661
713
450
475
500
525
550
575
600
625
650
675
700
725
Measured level in pg WHO-TEQ g-1 of fat
Figure 5: Graph showing selecon of maximum levels of PCDD/Fs measured in chicken eggs in dierent countries. Samples before
2006 are in WHO-TEQ 1998. Sources of informaon are listed in Table 4.
Country - locality
22
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
Table 4: Overview of egg samples with highest measured levels of PCDD/Fs since 1990s.
Country Year Locality PCDD/Fs pg WHO-TEQ g-1 fat Source Comments (potenal source of contaminaon)
Belgium 2007 Not specied 20 [82] -
Mexico, 2005 Coatzacoalcos 22 [14] Petrochemical complex; hazardous waste incinerator
Uruguay 2009 Minas 23 [84, 85] Cement kiln co-incinerang PCBs
Kenya 2004 Nairobi - Dandora 23 [14] Open burning at dumpsite
Ukraine 2018 Krivyi Ryh 23 [86] Metallurgical and coke plants
Czechia 2002 Libis 23 [87] Chlor-alkali plant, dioxin contaminated site
Germany 1993 Not specied 23 [88] Either PVC burning or PCP - not clear from [88]
Poland 2011 Not specied 29 [89] PCP treated wood
Taiwan 2005 Changhua county 33 [90] Metallurgical plants (steelworks); (duck eggs)
Senegal 2005 Mbeubeuss 35 [14] Mixed waste dumpsite, potenal PCP contaminaon
Germany 1993-96 Not specied 35 [91] Not specied (free range chicken eggs)
Italy 2012-13 Piedmont region 38 [92] Secondary aluminium smelter
Russia 2005 Igumnovo 45 [14] Chlorine chemical industry area; HWI
Ghana 2018 Accra - hospital WI 49 this study Medical waste incinerator ash
Indonesia 2018 Kendalsari 49 [93] Secondary aluminium smelter
United Kingdom 2000 Newcastle 56 [16] Waste incineraon ash
Portugal 2008 Not specied 61 [144] PCP treated wood
Bulgaria 2005 Kovachevo 65 [14] Industrial area with coal burning power plants
Thailand 2015 Samut Sakhon 84 [94] Arsanal e-waste and general waste recycling; open burning
France 2004 Maincy (near Melun) 122 [15] Old waste incinerator operang between 1974-2002
Egypt 2005 Helwan 126 [14] Metallurgical workshops
Vietnam 2011 Bien Hoa 248 [95] Former US military base, dioxin contaminated site
Germany 1992 Rheinfelden 514 [96] Waste from chlor-alkali chemical plant
Ghana 2018 Agbogbloshie 661 this study E-waste and automobile scrap yard
Belgium (1999) 1999 Not specied 713 [97] Dioxin contaminaon of feed
23
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
4.1.1.3 Hexachlorobenzene, pentachlorobenzene and hexachlorobutadiene
Among the six free-range egg samples in this study, the highest levels of PeCB and HCB were measured in eggs
from Agbogbloshie� None of the samples were above LOQ for HCBD�
The highest level of HCB observed in this study in Agbogbloshie (25 ng g-1 fat) is equal to the level found in
Kwamrefu, Tanzania with a mean value of HCB (23 ng g-1 fat) [77]� However, the study in Arusha found a much
higher maximum level of 167 ng g-1 fat in the pooled eggs sample from Kwamrefu� Lower levels of HCB in eggs
from Yaoundé – TCK and Yaoundé - hospital are comparable to those measured in Mbeubeuss, Senegal, and
the highest from Yaoundé – Etetak was comparable to levels observed in Eloor, India in an IPEN study from
2005 [14]� In general none of the observed levels was extremely high nor exceeded EU limit values� The same
applies to PeCB in eggs from this study
4.1.2 Non-dioxin-like PCBs
Levels of 6 or 7 indicator PCB congeners represent a potenal inuence of technical mixtures of PCBs, which
is likely not the outcome of unintenonal generaon, but intenonal producon and use� The EU limit for 6
i-PCB congeners in eggs is set at 40 ng g-1 fat� The egg samples from Agbogbloshie were more than 4-mes this
limit value for i-PCBs� The reason might be that technical PCBs are present in oils from car wrecks and other
WEEE which end up at the scrap yard�
All remaining eggs samples in this study were below 40 ng g-1 fat� Levels of i-PCBs in eggs from Yaoundé were
above half of the limit set in the EU�
4.1.3 PBDD/Fs and BFRs in eggs
With the broad use of brominated ame retardants, the queson of the presence of polybrominated dibenzo-
p-dioxins and dibenzofurans in the food chain has arisen, as they are found in dierent environmental
compartments [75]� The WHO expert panel has concluded that polybrominated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PBDDs),
dibenzofurans (PBDFs) and some dioxin-like polybrominated biphenyls (dl-PBBs) may contribute signicantly
to daily human background exposure to the total dioxin toxic equivalencies (TEQs) [98]�
PBDD/Fs are not measured very oen in the environment yet, although there are some studies focused
on their presence in the African environment� Several studies have focused on PBDD/Fs in environmental
compartments at the Agbogbloshie scrap yard [31, 35, 36, 99]� This type of contaminaon is discussed in
a more detailed way in subchapter 4�2 below� Other studies focused on the presence of PBDD/Fs in e-waste
and plasc wastes in Nigeria [100, 101]� IPEN and Arnika recently found PBDD/Fs in toys from recycled e-waste
plasc sold in Nigeria [102]�
The e–waste dismantling process is a signicant source of PBDD/Fs releases into the environment as
demonstrated in several studies from e-waste dismantling sites in China [103, 104], Vietnam [105] and
Thailand [106]�
The results of analyses of free-range eggs from Cameroon and Ghana for BFRs and PBDD/Fs are summarized
in Table 5� For comparison there are also results in eggs from Wuhan, China and Samut Sakhon, Thailand from
which PBDD/Fs were found in high levels previously� The sample from Wuhan had highest ever measured
level of PBDD/Fs unl this study and analysis of eggs from Agbogbloshie�
Decabromodiphenyl ethane (DBDPE), octabromo-1,3,3-trimethylpheny-1-indan (OBIND), 2,3,4,5,6-
pentabromoethylbenzene (PBEB), and pentabromotoluene (PBT) from the group of nBFRs and
tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) were measured below LOQ in all samples, and therefore they were not
included in the Table 5� This nding is in agreement with measured levels in eggs from Arusha, where these
nBFRs were not detected [77]�
24
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
Table 5: Summarized results of analyses for dierent BFRs in free-range chicken eggs samples from Cameroon and Ghana (this
study) in comparison with samples from Wuhan (China) and Samut Sakhon (Thailand). Also results for eggs from supermarkets
(background) in Accra and Beijing respecvely are included. The table also contains results of analyses for PBDD/Fs in addion to
BFRs. Sources of data from China and Thailand: [94, 107, 108]
Chemicals SPBDE SHBCD HBB BTBPE PBDD/Fs
Units ng g-1 fat pg TEQ g-1 fat
Yaoundé - TCK Quart� 0�5 124 NA NA NA
Yaoundé - hospital 2�3 379 NA NA NA
Yaoundé - Etetak Quart� 2�8 25 NA NA NA
Agbogbloshie 1258 1961 1�1 38 300
Wuhan 1054 NA < 0�1* 51 27
Samut Sakhon - SMS E 3�1 NA < 0�1* < 0�5* 16
Samut Sakhon - SMS 2-13 1�3 159 NA NA NA
Accra (supermarket) 11 < 12�6* < 0�2* < 0�3* < 8�5*
Beijing (supermarket) 0�2 NA 3�7 < 0�5* < 1�8*
*below LOQ
We have found only one study assessing PBDD/Fs in chicken eggs in countries other than China and Thailand
from which data are incorporated in the Table 5� A report from Ireland showed levels of 0�244 – 0�415 pg TEQ
g-1 fat [109]� It is two orders of magnitude lower than the level measured in free -range chicken eggs samples
from Wuhan or Samut Sakhon, and three orders of magnitude lower than in samples from Agbogbloshie�
In the egg samples from Agbogbloshie, high levels of PBDEs and HBCD were also measured (1258 and 1961
ng g-1 fat respecvely)� The level of PBDEs is comparable to e-waste dismantling sites studied by Labunska et
al� [110] as well as the municipal waste incinerator site in Wuhan (see Table 4)� A signicantly increased level
of 51 ng g-1 fat was also measured in a sample from Wuhan for BTBPE7, which is comparable to the ndings in
eggs from Agbogbloshie in this study (38 ng g-1 fat)� They exceeded the background samples by at least two
orders magnitude (see Table 4)� A similar study from Tanzania found 4-mes lower levels of BTBPE in eggs
from Arusha area� Relavely low levels of HBB were observed in eggs from Agbogbloshie and Arusha [77]�
The level of HBCD in eggs from Agbogbloshie is one of the highest ever measured, comparable to very high
levels measured in Germany (2000 ng g-1 fat) [111]� However, in eggs from Shetpe in Kazakhstan the level of
HBCD in samples was one order of magnitude higher than that measured in samples from Agbogbloshie� It
was speculated that the source of contaminaon of eggs in Shetpe were chickens feeding among car wrecks
and/or were picked by hens directly ingesng parcles of brominated materials from the deteriorated car
interiors that had entered the soil [112, 113]�This exposure pathway is somewhat similar for the eggs from
Agbogbloshie� Another potenal source of contaminaon might also be polystyrene foam used in obsolete
electronic devices or in their packaging [114]�
In two samples from Yaoundé (from TCK Quarter and from the area close to the medical waste incinerator)
relavely high levels of HBCD exceeding background levels by 10 to 30-fold were measured� They are much
lower in comparison with Agbogbloshie but comparable to levels in eggs from Samut Sakhon (Thailand),
Balkhash (Kazakhstan) or Koh Samui (Thailand) [112]� All these sites had some waste related acvies as well�
HBCD in eggs from two sites in Yaoundé also exceeded levels found in Arusha [77]� HBCD in the third sample
from Etetak Quarter is lower than highest levels found in Arusha� PBDEs were low in samples from Yaoundé,
lower than some samples measured in Arusha, and close to the minimum levels there [77]�
What is remarkable is the level of PBDEs found in pooled sample from the supermarket in Accra which
exceeded levels found in several samples of free-range chicken eggs presented in Table 5 including those
from Yaoundé�
7 BTBPE stands for 1,2-bis(2,4,6-tribromo-fenoxy)ethane� It is one from the family of novel brominated ame retardants used e�g�
in electronics where replaced PBDEs� Its accumulaon in the eggs highlights the need of more detailed screening of new retardants
used as alternaves replacing PBDEs for their potenal properes similar to POPs, otherwise we will connue to repeat the same
mistake and will use new POPs to replace other POPs which is not intenon of the Stockholm Convenon�
25
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
4.1.4Shortchainchlorinatedparafns(SCCPs)
Egg samples from Agbogbloshie and Accra - supermarket, are, to our knowledge, the rst egg samples from Africa
which have been analyzed for SCCPs� Measured levels in these samples were 2067, 149 and 62 ng g-1 fat in eggs from
Agbogbloshie, Yaoundé – Etetak Q� and Accra – supermarket respecvely (see also Table 2)� By way of comparison, the
EU limit for SCCPs in water is 0�4 μg l-1 (~ng g-1) [115]�
The total concentraons of SCCPs in eggs ranged from 477 to 111000 ng g-1 fat from an e-waste- polluted area in South
China [116]� Level of SCCPs in eggs from Agbogbloshie (2067 ng g-1 fat) is higher than minimum level but it is also much
lower than maximum level from the South China site�
4.1.5 Background levels of POPs in eggs
The approach to establishing background levels of POPs in eggs diers in dierent studies� It is dicult in the
current world to nd remote sites without any substanal inuence of human acvity, which is why it was
established to use supermarket eggs from large covered chicken farms (somemes called ‘baery farms’)
where poultry do not have access to contaminated soil, as background level samples [97, 118]� We sampled
chicken eggs from a supermarket in Accra from chickens raised on a farm without access to open air space in
order to obtain informaon about background levels of POPs in chicken eggs� The results of the analyses for
this sample are in Tables 2 and 5� The levels of POPs in this sample were similar for PCDD/Fs, PCBs [14, 95]
or slightly higher (e�g� for PBDEs) [108] compared to those observed in the background samples from other
studies of POPs in chicken eggs�
4.2 E-waste scrap yard
Agbogbloshie scrap yard was the focus of numerous previous studies regarding its contaminaon by POPs
and heavy metals� Most of them focused either on soil or human ssue contaminaon by dierent POPs, and
various groups of these chemicals, polyhalogenated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans in parcular� Our
study is focused on free-range chicken eggs as part of the diet for people living on the scrap yard as well as
part of local food chain� This is rst me to our knowledge where POPs were analyzed in free-range chicken
eggs from hens foraging in the area of Agbogbloshie scrap yard� We also analyzed one pooled soil sample
from the closest area to the locaon where the chicken eggs were sampled�
The results of analyses for PCDD/Fs, PCBs, HCB, PeCB, HCBD, PBDD/Fs, SCCPs, some OCPs, PBDEs, HBCD,
TBBPA and nBFRs are summarized in Table 6�
Table 6: Summarized results of analyses for various POPs in two samples from Agbogbloshie scrap yard (analyzed for this study)
compared with three samples from a small arsanal e-waste and other wastes recycling site in Samuth Sakhon, Thailand; source
[108, 118].
Locality Accra - Agbogbloshie Samut Sakhon (Thailand)
Sample ID AGB-E AGB-S-1 SMS-E A2 - soil SMS1-14
Matrix Eggs Soil Eggs Soil Sediment
Units (ng g-1 fat) (ng g-1 dw) (ng g-1 fat) (ng g-1 dw) (ng g-1 dw)
PCDD/Fs (pg TEQ g-1 fat) 661 4524 84 13 12
dl-PCBs (pg TEQ g-1 fat) 195 399 12 0�001 1�5
Total PCDD/F + dl-PCBs (pg TEQ g-1 fat) 856 4924 96 13 13�5
PBDD/Fs (pg TEQ g-1)300 62 16 NA NA
HCB 25 91 4�2 1�4 <LOD
PeCB 22 181 NA 0�35 NA
HCBD < 0�2 0�15 NA NA NA
7 i-PCB 286 618 13 1�1 <LOD
6 i-PCB (EU) 168 452 11 1�1 <LOD
PCNs* < 1�4 4�3 NA NA NA
SCCPs 2067 311 NA NA NA
sum HCH < 0�6 0�10 0�31 NA <LOD
26
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
sum DDT 9�7 0�79 2�9 NA <LOD
PBDEs 1258 765 3�1 NA NA
sum HBCD 1961 9�8 NA NA NA
BTBPE 38 20 <0�5 NA NA
DBDPE <3�3 35 NA NA NA
HBB 1�1 1�6 <0�1 NA NA
PBT <0�2 0�15 <0�1 NA NA
TBBPA <4�2 149 NA NA NA
dw = dry weight
*Seven PCN congeners were measured: PCN 52, 56, 66, 70, 73, 74 and 75�
The most recent study by Tue et al� [99] summarized potenal health eects of high contaminaon of soils
by PCDD/Fs, PBDD/Fs and other dioxin-like chemicals: The elevated TEQ concentraons in surface soils of
the dismantling area suggest high risk of exposure to dioxin-like chemicals and potenal dioxin-related health
eects for e-waste dismantling workers and other people frequenng the area, especially for children who may
accidentally ingest more soils and are subjected to higher per-weight exposure doses than adults. Considering
the dioxin exposure threshold of 1 pg TEQ/kg/day [119] and an average soil ingeson rate of 30 mg/day for
12 year old children [120] with an average body weight of 40 kg, TEQ concentraons in soils exceeding 1300
pg g-1 can be considered as posing risk for children exposure. Chronic exposure to PCDD/Fs resulted in high
concentraons in blood of workers in Agbogbloshie [37]. Meanwhile, despite the high contaminaon levels
of PBDFs in Agbogbloshie, the contribuon of these brominated dioxins to the total dioxin exposure risk is sll
unclear considering the potenally lower bioaccessibility and shorter half-life [121, 122]. Nevertheless, as
signicant dioxin-like acvies were detected in the brominated dioxin fracon (rather than in the chlorinated
dioxin fracon) of several randomly selected serum samples from Agbogbloshie e-waste workers, further
studies on potenal health eects of brominated dioxins in e-waste workers are warranted“ [99].
Figure 6: All the me ongoing open burning of e-waste scrap or plascs in Agbogbloshie adds dioxin
contaminaon to the levels already contained in waste imported to this site.
Photo: Marn Holzknecht, Arnika.
27
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
PBDD/Fs measured in soil in this study are much lower than those found in samples from 2013 by Tue et
al� [99]� However, PCDD/Fs in our sample are comparably high to the maximum level of 5�2 ng TEQ g-1 dw
found by Tue et al� [99]� This study did not focus on mapping dierent soil levels, but on free-range chicken
eggs from dierent locaons in Ghana and Cameroon, so we denitely cannot say that our soil sample is
representave for Agbogbloshie� We wanted to obtain a beer characterisaon of the closest soil environment
for chickens laying eggs for the household which provided us with a sample� Tue et al� [99] also highlighted
The concentraons of PCDD/Fs, PBDD/Fs and PBDEs in surface soil samples from the Agbogbloshie e-waste
site varied widely, ranging over one to two orders of magnitude even within the same area (Table 1). The
contaminaon levels of PCDD/Fs and PBDD/Fs were not signicantly dierent between the open burning
areas and the dismantling area (Wilcoxon’s rank sum test, p > 0.05). However, the highest concentraons
of total PCDD/Fs were found in the open burning areas (1.3–380, median 33 ng/g as opposed to 5.6–230,
median 16 ng/g), whereas the highest concentraons of total PBDD/Fs were found in the dismantling area …“.
The dioxin congener paern in the egg samples is dierent than that in the mixed soil sample� It appears that
the hens, from which we obtained the eggs, forage in a much broader area (see Figure 7)� In addion, the
balance between PBDD/Fs and PCDD/Fs, expressed in WHO-TEQs, is quite dierent in the pooled eggs (1 : 99)
compared to the composite soil sample (3 : 7)�
Figure 7: Dioxin prole of eggs and soil sample from Accra – Agbogbloshie.
0,00%
5,00%
10,00%
15,00%
20,00%
25,00%
30,00%
35,00%
Accra - Agbogbloshie (eggs)
Accra - Agbogbloshie (soil)
The POPs levels in free-range chicken eggs sampled in this study indicate that producon of food at the scrap
yard in Agbogbloshie might have serious health implicaons� Based on the results of analyses demonstrated
in Table 6 and discussed in chapter 4�1, we can say that: An adult eang just one egg from Agbogbloshie
would exceed the tolerable daily intake (TDI) as set by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2018 for
dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs by 220-fold [123]� One egg from Agbogbloshie would exceed the TDI suggested
by the World Health Organizaon (WHO) by thirty-fold [124]� The typical daily egg consumpon per person in
Ghana is less than one egg a day, but even eang 2�5 grams of egg a day would exceed the EFSA TDI by more
than 15-fold�
28
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
4.3 Dump sites
CREPD took samples of free-range chicken eggs at two dump sites in Yaoundé, the capital city of Cameroon�
These samples were analyzed for unintenonally produced POPs: HCB, PeCB and HCBD� We were not able to
analyse them for dioxins due to the nancial constrains of our project, however there are older egg samples
from two dumpsites in African countries from previous studies, and another sample from Yaoundé which was
taken in the surroundings of a small medical waste incinerator combined with an open ring pit for wastes�
So, the sample taken near the medical waste incinerator can be considered to reect potenal levels from
open burning of wastes in Yaoundé� The total levels of PCDD/Fs and dl-PCBs in the medical waste incinerator
sample was 11 pg TEQ g-1 fat, which is lower in comparison with samples from two sampled dumpsites in
Nairobi, (Dandora) and Dakar (Mbeubeuss) in 2005 where levels of 27 and 40 pg TEQ g-1 fat respecvely were
found in free-range chicken eggs [14, 125, 126]�
Table 7: Summarized results of analyses for various POPs in two samples from Yaoundé dumpsites (analyzed for this study)
compared with two samples from earlier studies of chicken egg samples from two other African locaons in Nairobi, Kenya and
Dakar, Senegal and a more recent sample from a landll site in Praeksa, Thailand. Sources [125-127].
Locality
Yaoundé-TCK
Quart�
Yaoundé-
Etetak
Quart�
Nairobi –
Dandora
(2005)
Dakar –
Mbeubeuss
(2005)
Praeksa
(Thailand)
Sample YA- 1 YA- 3 Dandora Malika PKS-EGG
Units (ng g-1 fat) (ng g-1 fat) (ng g-1 fat) (ng g-1 fat) (ng g-1 fat)
PCDD/Fs (pg TEQ g-1 fat) NA NA 20 36 6�5
dl-PCBs (pg TEQ g-1 fat) NA NA 7�2 3�1 2�2
Total PCDD/F + dlPCBs (pg
TEQ g-1 fat) NA NA 27 40 8�7
HCB 1�5 7�1 4�4 1�7 NA
PeCB 0�56 4�7 NA NA NA
HCBD < 0�1 < 0�1 NA NA NA
7 i-PCB 28 36 31 29 NA
6 i-PCB (EU) 27 34 25 28 NA
sum HCH 4�5 7�6 2�5 6�0 NA
sum DDT 39 36 83 23 NA
PBDEs 0�50 2�8 29 NA NA
sum HBCD 124 25 160 NA NA
Indicator PCBs, HBCD and DDT seem to be major POPs contaminants in samples of eggs from the two
dumpsites in Yaoundé� Similar levels of PCBs in eggs were observed at all the African dumpsites� Eggs near all
four African dumpsites contained DDT and three of the sites contained HBCD and PBDEs�
Signicant contaminaon by HBCD can be found in free-range chicken egg samples from the vicinity of
dumpsites in general as observed in much higher levels at the Agbogbloshie scrap yard� This is most likely
due to polystyrene or upholstery waste present at the dumpsites� Similar levels of HBCD to those found in
eggs from dumpsites in Yaoundé were found in eggs from some places in Kazakhstan from sites near rather
uncontrolled landlls or dumpsites (e�g� egg samples from Baskuduk or Balkhash Rembaza [112])� Levels
of PBDEs are lower in comparison with HBCD and also much lower than that observed at the scrap yard
in Agbogbloshie where e-waste is major source of contaminaon by PBDEs� E-waste is not present in high
quanes at general dumpsites like those sampled in Yaoundé�
29
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
4.4 Waste incinerators
The surroundings of three small medical waste incinerators were sampled for this report� We took samples of
free-range chicken eggs in close vicinity of all three of them and we also sampled waste incineraon residues
from two Ghana waste incinerators, ash in one case and soot in another hospital waste incineratorAll were
pooled samples as described in chapter 2�
The results of analyses for PCDD/Fs, PCBs, HCB, PeCB, HCBD, PBDD/Fs, SCCPs, some OCPs (DDT and HCHs),
PBDEs, and HBCD in samples from three waste incineraon sites in Yaoundé, Accra and Kumasi are summarized
in Table 8�
Table 8: Summarized results of analyses for various POPs in samples from medical waste incinerators areas and surrounding in
Youndé, Accra and Kumasi in eggs, ash and soot.
Locality
Yaoundé-
hospital
Accra -
hospital
Kumasi -
hospital
Accra -
hospital
Kumasi -
hospital
Sample YA- 2 KBI-E KU-E KBI-A-1 KU-A-1
Matrix Eggs Eggs Eggs Ash Soot
Units (ng g-1 fat) (ng g-1 fat) (ng g-1 fat) (ng g-1 dw) (ng g-1 dw)
PCDD/Fs (pg TEQ g-1) 4�6 49 1�7 551 2315
dl-PCBs (pg TEQ g-1) 6�8 14 0�86 28 99�5
Total PCDD/F + dl-PCBs (pg TEQ g-1) 11�4 63�1 2�60 579 2414
HCB 1�43 3�63 0�76 4�09 NA
PeCB 0�35 2�88 < 0�2 3�49 0�774
HCBD < 0�1 < 0�2 < 0�2 < 0�02 < 0�02
7 i-PCB 32�0 7�8 < 1�4 0�29 NA
6 i-PCB (EU) 30�4 7�8 < 1�2 0�29 NA
sum HCH 2�50 < 0�6 < 0�6 0�10 NA
sum DDT 22�23 79�43 0�82 0�79 NA
PBDEs 2�31 NA NA NA NA
sum HBCD 379�41 NA NA NA NA
Figure 8: Dioxin congeners paerns in eggs and ash from Accra – hospital site.
0,00%
5,00%
10,00%
15,00%
20,00%
25,00%
30,00%
35,00%
40,00%
45,00%
Accra - hospital (eggs)
Accra - hospital (ash)
30
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
31
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
32
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
Table 9 summarizes results of analyses for dioxins in free-range chicken eggs from places inuenced by ash
from waste incinerators or other wastes containing PCDD/Fs in dierent locaons around the world� The table
is constructed to show the potenal pathway of polluon by dioxins from wastes to soil (as career) and then
to free-range chicken eggs as the receptorThey are also compared with background levels (reference) of
PCDD/Fs in eggs from countries, mostly levels in eggs from larger farms where chickens are kept inside and
do not have access to dioxin contaminaon sources�
Table 9. Summary of levels of PCDD/Fs (in TEQs and/or BEQs) observed at dierent sites inuenced by y ash and other waste
contaminated by PCDD/Fs described in this study or in the literature.
Year(s) of
sampling
Fly ashes
(waste)
Soil/sediment
direct impact
Soil/sed�
reference Eggs
Eggs –
reference1)
Units pg TEQ g-1 dw pg TEQ g-1 fat
Thailand (WI Phuket)
2010 -
2011
3,200 -
8,000 2,700** na 6�1* 0�08[106]
China (WI Wuhan)
2014 -
2015 779 na na 12�2 0�2 [112]
UK (Bishops Cleeve)
2010 -
2011 2,500 6�5 – 11* 0�05 - 1�2
1�8; 21;
55* 0�2[5]
UK (Newcastle) [5,
113] 2000 20 - 9,500 7 – 292 na 0�4 – 56 0�2 [5]
Peru (Zapallal) [114] 2010 50 - 12,000 5 – 11 0�05 - 1�2 3�4 - 4�4 0�12 [114]
Taiwan (eggs event)
[115] 2005 na na na 32�6 0�274 [116]
Poland (henhouse)
[80] 2015 3,922 16 – 47 0�1 - 0�8 12�5 - 29�3 0�44 [80]
Ghana (Accra,
hospital) 2018 551 na 2*** [31] 49 0�39
Notes: *BEQs (total dioxin-like toxicity), ** sediment, na – not available, *** dl-PCBs + PCDD/Fs (site in Accra)”
In previous studies, processing/disposal of waste containing PCDD/Fs between 20 and 12,000 pg TEQ g-1 led
to contaminaon of the food chain (eggs or poultry meat) up to levels >20-mes higher than the suggested
EU limit for PCDD/Fs in food (2�5 pg TEQ g-1 fat)19� Levels from reference sites (background levels) in free-
range chicken eggs were exceeded up to 280-fold�
In Accra, hens have access to a site with stored ash, but also forage in a larger area which is probably not
contaminated with such high levels of dioxins� However, like other studies, the results show that incinerator
y ash with a level of dioxins (551 pg TEQ g-1 dw) well below the current internaonally set provisional limit
value for PCDD/Fs in wastes (15,000 pg TEQ g-1) leads to contaminaon of eggs at a level (49 pg TEQ g-1 fat)
exceeding EU limit by almost 20-fold�
A Swedish EPA study demonstrated that PCDD/Fs levels of 30 pg TEQ g-1 fat in an egg will be exceeded at
soil concentraons of approximately 4 to 75 ng TEQ kg-1 dw� Therefore, the European maximum level of 2�5
pg TEQ g-1 PCDD/F in fat [132] can be exceeded at levels that are ten mes lower (i�e� 0�4 and 7 ng TEQ kg-1
dw)� Based on the upper level of the range given in the Swedish EPA study and examples of a scenario with
contaminated wood waste [130], it can be concluded that applicaon of y ash and other wastes containing
levels of dioxin over 0�05 ppb in land-based applicaons can lead to unacceptable contaminaon of the local
food chain� In some other studies, even lower levels of dioxins in soils led to contaminaon of free-range
chicken eggs exceeding the EU standard for food [14, 15]� Free-range eggs can be impacted at crical levels,
and in some cases revealing a more than 20-fold exceedance of current EU limits� Locally produced food is of
great importance in developing countries and rural locaons in developed countries therefore this exposure
scenario is of parcular concern�
Free-range chicken eggs from the Accra – hospital site also exceeded the EU suggested limit for PCDD/Fs for
PCDD/Fs + dl-PCBs by more than almost 13-fold� This is most likely a consequence of access to untreated
waste incineraon residues� The waste incinerator has not been in operaon for several years but discarded
ash was found to sll be contaminated with high levels of PCDD/Fs + dl-PCBs (see photo in Figure 9)�
33
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
The level of PCDD/Fs in waste incineraon ash from the Accra hospital was 551 pg WHO-TEQ g-1dw� This level
is higher than what was measured in ash from a medical waste incinerator in Mozambique (346 pg WHO-TEQ
g-1 dw) for which the dioxin prole is presented in the graph at Figure 10 and compared with the prole from
Accra hospital� Also, data for ash from an open re pit in the Mozambique hospital were included� The dioxin
congener paern in ash from Accra is somewhat dierent from those observed in ashes from Mozambique�
Figure 10: Comparison of PCDD/Fs congener paerns in samples of ash from Mozambique and hospital waste incinerator ash from
Accra, Ghana. In order to get equal comparison, the levels for each congener are in relave percentage from total PCDD/Fs value (in
absolute real amount). Source of informaon about PCDD/Fs in ashes from Mozambique is Peter I. K. Mochungong’s thesis [133].
0,00%
10,00%
20,00%
30,00%
40,00%
50,00%
60,00%
70,00%
80,00%
Mozambique - WI
Mozambique - open re pit
Accra - hospital WI
In comparison with observed levels of PCDD/Fs in ashes from similar waste incinerators in Pakistan [134] or
Thailand [135] the dioxin content in ash from Accra – hospital is 2 – 4 mes lower� However, it can be caused
by the age of ash at this site as some PCDD/Fs could be already diluted and released to the environment�
Figure 9: Waste incineraon ash on the ground at the closed medical waste incinerator area
in Accra most likely contaminates free range chicken by PCDD/Fs as it sll contains 551 pg
WHO-TEQ g-1 dw of these chemicals.
34
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
5. Conclusions
Eggs sampled at the Agbogbloshie scrap yard in Ghana contained the highest level of brominated dioxins ever
measured in eggs and one of the highest ever measured levels of the ame retardant chemical, HBCD� These
eggs also contained the second highest level of chlorinated dioxins ever measured in eggs� An adult eang
just one egg from a free-range chicken foraging in Agbogbloshie area would exceed the European Food Safety
Authority (EFSA) tolerable daily intake (TDI) for chlorinated dioxins by 220-fold� Indicator PCBs in these eggs
were four-fold higher than the EU standard and dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs were 171-fold higher than the
standard� These eggs also contained very high levels of SCCPs and PBDEs and relavely high levels of other
POPs such as PeCB and HCB� These ndings raise further concerns about e-waste ‘recycling’ at Agbogbloshie
and add further informaon to already published results of high levels of POPs measured in soil, sediments,
water and human ssues�
Eggs near the medical waste incinerator in Accra, Ghana exceeded the EU dioxin limit by 13-fold and eggs
sampled near the facility in Yaoundé exceeded the limit by more than two-fold� PCBs did not exceed limits,
but signicant levels were also found� High levels of HBCD were also found in eggs from the vicinity of the
Yaoundé waste incinerator and one of the dumpsites
6. Discussion & Policy Implications:
6.1 POPs waste and e-waste
There is a clear link between current global policy that allows uncontrolled movement of e-waste and the
health and environmental crisis in areas where dumping occurs, such as Agbogbloshie� A recent report by
Basel Acon Network conrmed that Ghana is on the list of desnaons for old, used electronic devices from
Europe—devices that contain high levels of PBDEs in the plasc casings and wire insulaon [8]�
Recent research has demonstrated that brominated dioxins show up in products made from recycled e-waste
plascs� A recent study conducted by IPEN, Arnika and HEAL [102], in cooperaon with NGOs from dierent
countries, found worrying levels of brominated dioxins in toys made of recycled plascs that originated
in e-waste� Brominated dioxins, which are similarly toxic to chlorinated dioxins—one of the Stockholm
Convenon’s original “dirty-dozen”—occur with some brominated ame retardants and are also formed
when brominated ame retardants are burned� The ndings of high levels of brominated dioxins in eggs in
Agbogbloshie, the desnaon of vast amounts of used electronic products, is especially concerning, as it
illustrates a pathway for some of the most dangerous chemicals into food sources�
Dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs have previously been found in high levels in egg samples from Egypt, Senegal,
Kenya, and Tanzania connected to polluon hot spots in Africa, mostly related to waste [14]� This underscores
the ndings of this current study and highlights the need to improve waste management and to control dioxin
ow in wastes�
To prevent further contaminaon of hot spots such as Agbogbloshie or the creaon of new ones in Africa,
governments must change internaonal rules to:
»Set strict limits for POPs in waste� Banned chemicals should be kept out of waste streams and recycling�
Materials that are dened as POPs waste must not be transported internaonally and must be sequestered
and destroyed according to strict protocol� The seng of strict hazardous waste limits for POPs waste
is a crical tool for prevenng their free movement across borders to developing countries, which are
lacking technologies to destroy POPs in waste in an environmentally and health protecve manner� These
stricter limits (dened as Low POP Content in the Stockholm Convenon) should be 50 mg/kg for PBDEs,
100 mg/kg for HBCD and SCCPs and 1 ug TEQ/kg for PCDD/Fs at maximum�
» Transfer cleaner technologies for destrucon of POPs and help to introduce environmentally sound
management of electronic waste in developing countries�
» Repair loopholes in e-waste technical guidelines under the Basel Convenon�
35
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
» List brominated dioxins (PBDD/Fs) under the Stockholm Convenon�
» Connuous monitoring by governments and taking appropriate measures to deal with releases e�g�
through legislaon and seng naonal standards�
Improvements to waste management that include technical assistance are needed� Such improvements will
help establish sustainable sorng and recycling of waste and not move polluon back into the environment
where it harms workers and communies around waste sites� Non-combuson technologies used for medical
waste treatment, accompanied with sorng of waste, would prevent contaminaon of chicken eggs at
hospitals such as the sites examined in this study� Addionally, the introducon of stricter limits for dioxins in
wastes allowed to be used on surfaces without pre-treatment (at level 50 pg TEQ g-1= 0�05 ppb) will prevent
cases such as those documented in places where waste incineraon residues are not handled properly�
6.2 Healthcare waste management
The data presented in this study verify long-standing concerns over the use of small medical waste incinerators
in developing countries� The Stockholm Convenon Guidelines on Best Available Techniques and Guidance
on Best Environmental Pracces (BAT/BEP) note concerns over small hospital incinerators, stang that,
“Due to the poor design, operaon, equipment and monitoring of many exisng small hospital incinerators
these installaons cannot be regarded as employing best available techniques” [2]� None of the medical
waste incinerators in this study could be considered to employ BAT/BEP due to their design, operaon, lack
of polluon control, and lack of waste management for the ash� The high POPs levels in eggs reveal the
consequences of inadequate healthcare waste management� A hospital facility designed for healing should
not pollute the food chain or cause adverse impacts on human health and the environment�
The high levels of POPs near medical waste incinerators are consistent with observaons in other developing
countries� A survey of small healthcare facilies in Tanzania showed only 30 – 40% of the incinerators were
in good operang condions and half of them had missing chimneys, ash pits, and other problems [136]�
In Iran, 6 of 9 private hospitals that had incinerators had operaonal problems [145]� A study in Bangladesh
of occupaonal health of waste workers did not nd a single properly operang medical waste incinerator
[145]�
Dioxin emissions from medical waste incineraon have also raised concerns in developed countries� In the US
EPA reassessment of dioxin sources in the 1990s, medical waste incinerators in the US were idened as one
of the largest dioxin sources in the country [1]� Medical waste incineraon is a major dioxin source, primarily
due to combuson of PVC plasc which is a dominant source of organically bound chlorine� The links between
medical waste incineraon and dioxin formaon in the US smulated a resoluon from the American Public
Health Asssociaon which, “Urges all health care facilies to explore ways to reduce or eliminate their use of
PVC plascs“ [ 137]�
Instead of trying to improve dioxin-producing technologies such as small medical waste incinerators, a strategy
that prevents dioxin formaon is more cost eecve and consistent with Stockholm Convenon objecves�
This includes changing the hospital waste stream by moving away from PVC products, implemenng robust
waste segregaon since most hospital waste is not infecous, and implemenng use of non-combuson
methods such as autoclaves for infecous waste� The Stockholm Convenon Guidelines on Best Available
Techniques and Guidance on Best Environmental Pracces describes use of source reducon, segregaon,
recycling, training, and use of autoclaves and other non-combuson methods [2]� The Guidelines note that
non-combuson techniques such as autoclaving, “do not result in the formaon and release of chemicals
listed in Annex C and should therefore be given priority consideraon for their ulmate eliminaon.” These
methods have been implemented as described by WHO, Health Care Without Harm and others [4, 138, 139]�
Work to implement sustainable healthcare waste management has been underway for some me in
developing and transion countries� In Africa, this includes sustainable procurement (Tanzania, Zambia)
[140], non-combuson waste treatment pilot project (Tanzania)[6], and non-incineraon healthcare waste
management and mercury-free medical devices (Ghana, Madagascar, Tanzania, Zimbabwe) among others�
36
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
6.3 Environmental, food and human monitoring
This and previous studies also show on gaps in monitoring of POPs and/or EDCs in environmental, food, and
wildlife/human in general� This leads us to following suggesons:
»Use internaonal standards for monitoring of dioxins in food (e�g� eggs) and mandatory number of analysis
per year per crical food items�
»Use internaonal accepted standards (such as as EC/644/2017); [141] for the analysis of dioxins/PCBs in food/
feed using high-throughput screening tests (such as DR CALUX) as well as chemical conrmave analysis�
» Use screening tests (such as DR CALUX) which allows an easier, cost-ecient and high capacity tesng
of not only polychlorinated dioxins, but also here for polybrominated dioxins which are high relevant to
e-waste�
» Recommend using high-through-put and cost ecient screening tests (such as DR CALUX® method) for
blood and human milk for polyhalogenated (chlorinated and brominated) dioxins/furans for wildlife and
humans [142, 143]�8
»It is immediately necessary to evaluate also the most toxic mode of acons such as the well described
eets of endocrine disrupng chemicals, “hormone-like” of e�g� PBDEs (female hormone estrogen-like,
inhibion male hormone-like), TBBPA (thyroid transport competor) and therefor related risks of such
e-waste dismantling sites for wildlife and humans�
7. Aknowledgements
IPEN, Arnika and CREPD gratefully acknowledge the nancial support provided by the Government Sweden,
Global Greengrants Fund and oher donors that made the producon of this document possible�
The expressed views and interpretaons herein shall not necessarily be taken to reect the ocial opinion
of any of the instuons providing nancial support� Responsibility for the content lies enrely with IPEN,
Arnika and CREPD�
8. Abbreviations
BDS – BioDetecon Systems (laboratory in Netherlands)
BEQ – bioanalycal equivalent
CALUX - chemically acvated luciferase gene expression
BTBPE - 1,2-bis(2,4,6-tribromo-fenoxy) ethane
DDD – dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane (a metabolite of DDT)
DDE - dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (a chemical compound formed by the loss of hydrogen chloride from
DDT)
DDT – dichlorodiphenyltricholoroethane (pescide)
dl-PCBs – dioxin-like PCBs
dw – dry weight
EDCs – endocrine disrupng chemicals
EPA – Environmental Protecon Agency
EU – European Union
GC – gas chromatography
8 It is important to noce that the DR CALUX method also includes already the brominated dioxins and biphenyls (PBDD/Fs and
PBBs) without any further costs, while the chemical analyses needs here an additonal expensive analysis� Globally, at the moment
only a handfull chemical laboratories are available to perform this addional chemical analysis in roune for brominated dioxins
and biphenyls (PBDD/Fs and PBBs), while many laboratories already perform the DR CALUX® method� Such easy, low cost and high-
capacity analysis tools are urgently needed in such cases with a wide-spread contaminaon of brominated dioxins/biphenyls (PBDD/
Fs/PBBs) in e-waste, products from recycled e-waste plasc, soil, feed/food and human biomonitoring (blood, mother milk)�
37
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
GPC - gel permeaon chromatography
GPS - global posioning system
HBB - hexabromobenzene
HBCD - hexabromocyclododecane
HCB – hexachlorobenzene
HCBD - hexachlorobutadiene
HCHs – hexachlorocyclohexanes (pescides and their metabolites)
HRGC-HRMS – high resoluon gas chromatography – high resoluon mass spectroscopy
IARC - Internaonal Agency for Research on Cancer
i-PCBs – indicator PCB congeners
IPEN – Internaonal POPs Eliminaon Network
LOD – limit of detecon
LOQ – limit of quancaon
MAC – maximum acceptable (allowable) concentraon
ML – maximum level
MRL – maximum residue level
NA – not analyzed
na - not available
nBFRs – novel brominated ame retardants
ndl-PCBs – non-dioxin-like PCBs
NGO – non-govermental organizaon (civil society organizaon)
NIP – Naonal Implementaon Plan
NOAEL - no observed adverse eect level
OBIND – octabromotrimethylfenylindane
OCPs – organochlorinated pescides
PBDD/Fs – polybrominated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans
PBDEs – polybrominated diphenyl ethers
PBEB – pentabromoethylbenzene
PBT – pentabromotoluene
PCBs – polychlorinated biphenyls
PCDD/Fs – polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans
PCDDs – polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins
PCDFs – polychlorinated furans
PeCB - pentachlorobenzene
POPs – persistent organic pollutants
SC – Stockholm Convenon on Persistent Organic Pollutants
SCCPs – short chain chlorinated parans
SOP - standard operang procedures
38
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eggs: Report from Africa
TBBPA – tetrabromobisphenol A
TEF – toxic equivalency factor(-s)
TEQ – toxic equivalent
UNDP – United Naons Development Programme
UNEP – United Naons Environment Programme
UPOPs – unintenonally produced POPs
US EPA – United States Environmental Protecon Agency
WHO-TEQ – toxic equivalent dened by WHO experts panel in 2005
WI – waste incinerator and/or waste incineraon
ww – wet weight
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versity & Research centre): Wageningen� p� 25�
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... These emissions may also contain mercury (see section 2.2), so the abatement of greenhouse gases, air pollutants and mercury may be achieved synergistically. 17 Brigden et al., 2008;Lundgren, 2012;Petrlik et al., 2019. 18 Booth et al., 2013. ...
... 19 Alaee, 2016Dorneles et al., 2013;Kumar et al., 2001. 20 Brigden et al., 2008Petrlik et al., 2019;Zhang et al., 2011. 21 Brigden et al., 2008Petrlik et al., 2019;Ssebugere et al., 2013. ...
... 20 Brigden et al., 2008Petrlik et al., 2019;Zhang et al., 2011. 21 Brigden et al., 2008Petrlik et al., 2019;Ssebugere et al., 2013. Re-emission of mercury from local, regional and international waters ...
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The levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and short/median-chain chlorinated paraffins (S/MCCPs) in 68 home-produced eggs collected in 2013 and 2016 from an electronic-waste (e-waste) site in South China were measured and the human dietary exposure to these two classes of contaminants via egg consumption was calculated. The levels of PCBs, SCCPs, and MCCPs varied from 236 to 8870 ng/g lipid weight (lw), 477 to 111,000 ng/g lw, and 125 to 91,100 ng/g lw, respectively. There are no significant differences in the levels of PCBs, SCCPs, and MCCPs between 2013 and 2016 (p > 0.05). The congener profiles of PCBs and MCCPs were similar to each other between 2013 and 2016; however, the homologue profiles of SCCPs were different. The Toxic Equivalent Quantities (TEQs) of ∑DL-PCBs and the levels of ∑ICES-6 PCBs strongly exceeded the limits set by EU Regulation 1259/2011 (2.5 pg World Health Organization-TEQ2005 g-1 lw for DL-∑PCBs and 40 ng/ g lw for ∑ICES-6 PCBs). The estimated daily intakes (EDI) of PCBs, SCCPs, and MCCPs by adults and children ranged between 5.57 and 1100, 11.8 and 11,900, and 3.62 and 11,400 ng/kg bw/d, respectively. PCBs pose serious health risks for local residents, especially for children, due to the high ratios of EDI (68% in 2013 and 70% in 2016 for adults and 100% for children) in excess of the exposure limits.
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While there are no regulatory fire safety obligations for polystyrene (PS) when used as packaging material, concerns exist that such packaging material may contain the flame retardant hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) as a result of uncontrolled recycling activities. To evaluate these concerns, we collected 50 samples of PS packaging materials from the UK and 20 from Ireland. HBCDD was detected in 63 (90%) of samples, with concentrations in 4 samples from Ireland exceeding the EU's low POP concentration limit (LPCL) of 0.1% above which articles may not be recycled. Moreover, 2 further samples contained HBCDD >0.01%. While our samples were obtained in the 12 month period prior to the March 2016 introduction of the EU's 0.01% concentration limit above which articles may not be placed on the market, our data suggest that continued monitoring is required to assess compliance with this limit value. Ratios of α vs. γ-HBCDD in our EPS packaging samples (average = 0.63) exceeded significantly (p = 0.025) those in EPS building insulation material samples (average = 0.24) reported previously for Ireland. This shift towards α-HBCDD in packaging EPS is consistent with the additional thermal processing experienced by recycled PS and suggests the source of HBCDD in PS packaging is recycled PS insulation foam. This is of concern owing to the higher bioavailability and lower metabolic clearance of α-HBCDD compared to the β- and γ-isomers.
Article
Guiyu, China, is well-known for the crude disposal of electronic waste (EW) and severe persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Therefore, in this study, the occurrence, composition, and source of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), 2,2′,4,4′,5,5’-hexabromobiphenyl (BB153), some novel brominated flame retardants (NBFRs), Dechlorane Plus (DP) and polybrominated dibenzo-p-dioxins/dibenzofurans (PBDD/Fs) in farmland soils covering Guiyu were studied. In EW disposal area soils, PBDEs were the most abundant FRs, with concentrations of 13–1014 ng g⁻¹. The primary PBDE sources were technical Penta- and Deca-BDE mixtures in northern and southern Guiyu, respectively. The levels of BB153 were relatively low, possibly because it has been banned in the 1970s. The concentrations of hexabromobenzene (HBB) were 0.048–3.3 ng g⁻¹, while pentabromoethylbenzene (PBEB) was almost not detected in the soils. Two alternatives to commercial PBDEs, decabromodiphenyl ethane (DBDPE) and 1,2-bis(2,4,6-tribromophenoxy) ethane (BTBPE), were the primary NBFRs, with concentrations of 1.8–153 ng g⁻¹ and 0.43–15 ng g⁻¹, respectively. DP was another primary FR, with concentrations of 0.57–146 ng g⁻¹. Moreover, syn-DP and anti-DP isomers were not stereoselectively decomposed during the EW disposal process and were therefore present in their original fractions in the soils. The levels of PBDD/Fs in EW disposal area soils were 2.5–17 pg TEQ g⁻¹. 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-HpBDF and OBDF were the dominant congeners, mainly derived from processing, pyrolysis and combustion of BFRs. The regional distribution of pollutants was shown to be related to the disposal manner of EW, with their open thermal disposal tending to release more highly brominated compounds such as BDE209, DBDPE, and 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-HpBDF. Additionally, some riverbank sites were heavily polluted because of nearby point sources, downwind Simapu (SMP) town without EW disposal activity was also contaminated by these pollutants.