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By Muntaka Chasant | 470 words | Reading time: 2 min


Last updated: 28 January 2019 12:17 AM (GMT)





The "Urban mining" of copper and other rare earth metals from electronic waste at the Agbogbloshie e-waste dump could be seriously endangering public health in the capital city.




Agbogbloshie e-waste dump, Accra, Ghana/ November 2018


We kept ourselves busy throughout November, 2018, at the Agbogbloshie e-waste dump, and some parts of the adjoining settlement locally nicknamed “Sodom and Gomorrah” educating residents of the adverse health impacts of air pollution. We also distributed free anti-pollution face masks to help minimize their exposure to particulate pollutants in the area.


More than 100,000 people living in this area face varying degrees of elevated environmental health risks, including exposure to high concentrations of particulate matter from the burning of insulated wires and radial tires to recover copper and radial steel.



Muntaka Chasant, Founder & CEO of AirMask & Textiles Company/ Agbogbloshie e-waste dump, Accra, Ghana/ November 2018


Pure Earth/Blacksmith Institute (2013) listed the Agbogbloshie scrapyard and the nearby settlement among the world's top ten most toxic environments, along with Dzerzhinsk, Russia's cold war- era chemical weapons production site, often described as the most chemically polluted city in the world, and Chernobyl, the 1986 nuclear accident site in Ukraine. 1


Agbogbloshie e-waste dump, Accra, Ghana/ November 2018


See also: Videos and Photos of Agbogbloshie, Ghana


Large amount of electronic waste, imported and some locally generated, are processed at the Agbogbloshie scrapyard, every year.


Baldé and other researchers in the Global E-waste Monitor study estimated the total value of all raw materials present in e-waste globally to around 55 billion Euros in 2016.2


Copper Harvesting, Agbogbloshie, Accra, Ghana - Muntaka Chasant

Agbogbloshie e-waste dump, Accra, Ghana/ November 2018


Some aspects of informal e-waste recycling at Agbogbloshie involve the processing and the re-exporting of retrievable metals from e-waste into the global reprocessing system, where they are used in new devices.


Scrap workers at the Agbogbloshie e-waste dump regularly burn plastic-encased electronics and sheathed cables to retrieve copper and other precious metals.


Urban Mining, Agbogbloshie, Accra, Ghana, By Muntaka Chasant


Agbogbloshie scrapyard, Accra, Ghana/ Mobile Photography/ November 2018


The burning of electrical wires and electronic components contaminate Accra’s air by releasing a cocktail of highly toxic chemicals into the air, soil, and water. This exposes the city's population to serious health risks.



Styrofoam packaging is used as a fuel to harvest rare metals in the open in the Agbogbloshie e-waste landfill.


Agbogbloshie scrapyard, Accra, Ghana/ November 2018


Health assessments of parts of the Agbogbloshie scrapyard by Jack Caranavos and other researchers have revealed high levels of lead in the soil (18,125 Parts per millions [ppm], about 45 times higher than the US EPA’s standard of 400 ppm).


Blood and urine samples taken by the Ghana Health Service from 87 e-waste workers at the Agbogbloshie scrapyard showed elevated levels of barium, manganese, and zinc.3


Harvested copper, Agbogbloshie, Accra, Ghana - Muntaka Chasant


Harvested Copper, Agbogbloshie e-waste dump, Accra, Ghana/ November 2018


We hope to continue to engage communities such as Agbogbloshie to help minimize their exposure to particulate and gaseous pollutants. 



Agbogbloshie, Ghana - A short mobile film



See also: Air Pollution Killing More People in Ghana



See also: "A Quick Glimpse of Ghana's "Sodom and Gomorrah" Slum


See also: AirMask & Textiles Company donates Anti-Pollution Face Masks to Jamestown Residents


See also: Accra Royal Junior High School & Members Of Jamestown Slaughterhouse Receive Anti-Pollution Face Masks


Please leave your comments below, and let us know what you think!











1. http://www.worstpolluted.org/docs/TopTenThreats2013.pdf/ (Retrieved November, 2018)

2. https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Climate-Change/Documents/GEM%202017/Global-E-waste%20Monitor%202017%20.pdf (Retrieved November, 2018)

3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/290519876_Exploratory_Health_Assessment_of_Chemical_Exposures_at_E-Waste_Recycling_and_Scrapyard_Facility_in_Ghana (Retrieved November, 2018)



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Comments (4)

  • Daniel S Kwarkyi

    The solution is “Stop the practice at once” Do we know the number of people seeking medical help as a result of this massive air pollution? Government STOPPED galamsey one touch. We can see the benefits on our water bodies. City officials tasked to ensure compliance to environmental standards must be sanctioned for gross negligence to protect the public. It is serious.

  • Ellis

    Thank you for your comment and concern, Mr. Kwarkyi.

    You are correct, and I agree that this needs to stop now.

    ATC Mask Customer Support.

  • Kwasi

    I totally agree with Daniel. The Metro authorities who are responsible but have neglected their duties should be sanctioned and the perpetrators of the massive pollution stopped immediately. The young “miners” should be redirected to other trades.

  • Lys

    It is very sad because most of those who burn those items donnot know the consequences of their actions.They should be taught and if they persist in doing it,they should be taken far away in the outskirt of town.We live on Dansoman road and we still smell the stinch from these burnt items
    And this is an eye-sore right next to daily Graphic
    Solution: not to give them masks but clear them away from there

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