Persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals in Ghanaian environment: a systematic review of food safety implications

Prosper Manu Abdulai, Kabari Sam, Amarachi Paschaline Onyena, Anthoneth Ndidi Ezejiofor, Chiara Frazzoli, Osazuwa Clinton Ekhator, Godswill J. Udom, Caleb Kesse Frimpong, Jerome Nriagu, Orish Ebere Orisakwe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Advances in industrial and technological innovations have led to significant socio-economic benefits, but with overwhelming negative impacts on the environment. These impacts include the infiltration of organic contaminants into soil, water, and air, posing a threat to the environment and public health. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), heavy metals, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are increasingly released as waste, endangering the environment. In countries like Ghana, where regulations are weakly enforced, industrial waste is released uncontrollably, posing threats to public health, environmental integrity, and food systems. This study systematically evaluated existing literature on PBDEs, heavy metals, PAHs, and organic contaminant exposure in Ghana and proposes a roadmap for achieving food safety and protecting the environment and human health. The research identified high mobility of specific heavy metals and risks associated with PBDEs and PAHs in sediments, dumpsites, and various food items. Unregulated dumping of electronic waste with PBDEs raised environmental concerns. An integrated approach is needed to address the multifaceted impact of organic pollutants on public health and ecosystems. Urgent implementation of effective environmental management strategies and regulatory measures is crucial. The study proposed short- to mid-term priorities emphasising the need to foster collaboration and implementing global measures. The mid- to long-term strategy includes a national information surveillance system, local monitoring capacity development, and integrating land contamination controls with food safety legislation. These measures would mitigate risks, ensure sustainable practices, and improve overall food safety management in Ghana, serving as a model for regions facing similar challenges with diverse pollutants.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number4
Early online date16 Mar 2024
Publication statusEarly online - 16 Mar 2024


  • carcinogenic
  • heavy metals
  • contamination
  • food safety
  • organic pollutants
  • Ghana

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