Prospects of emerging PAH sources and remediation technologies: insights from Africa

Kabari Simeon Sam, Amarachi Paschaline Onyena, Nenibarini Zabbey, Chuks Kenneth Odoh, Goodluck N. Nwipie, Dumbari K. Nkeeh, Leo C. Osuji, David I. Little

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Remediation of polluted environmental media is critical to realization of the goals of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (UNDER) project. Many natural-resource dependent economies in Africa are characterized by numerous contaminated sites resulting from conventional and artisanal natural-resource mining. Alongside these extractive activities, there are refining, processing, and power plant operations, agriculture, urban, and infrastructure developments that contribute to increased discharges of toxins into the environment, particularly polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are carcinogenic in nature. As a result, human and environmental receptors (i.e., air, water, soil, and biota) face increasing risk of exposure to higher concentrations of PAH. Evidence exists of widespread PAH contamination and in some instances where corrective action has been taken, residual contaminant levels exceeding regulatory thresholds remain in the environment due to the use of inappropriate and unsustainable remedial methods. Considering the long-term harmful effects of PAH on human and ecosystem health, land use, and the complexity of Africa’s environmental deterioration, it is essential to explore remediation strategies that benefit both the environment and the economy. This review examined the status, opportunities, and challenges related to the application of emerging green technologies to remediate PAH-contaminated sites in five African countries (South Africa, Nigeria, Angola, Egypt, and Kenya). This paper concludes that bioremediation presents a sustainable option, considering its low net emissions and environmental footprints, and its low economic cost to Africa’s poor communities and overburdened economy. However, an integration of biological and physico-chemical approaches could address various compounds and concentrations of PAH contamination.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Early online date11 Feb 2023
Publication statusEarly online - 11 Feb 2023


  • PAH remediation
  • Nanoremediation
  • Metabolomics
  • Environmental footprint
  • PAH contamination

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