The World Health Organization (WHO) has highlighted the beneficial role of adequate intake of potassium (K) in combating the global burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), mainly hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. Diets are the main source of K supply to humans and can contribute to both K deficiency (hypokalemia) and excess (hyperkalemia). While global attention is currently devoted to K deficiency, K excess can be even more dangerous and deserves equal attention. The objectives of this paper were to (i) estimate the K intake of Ghanaian population using food supply and food composition data and (ii) compare this estimate with the WHO-recommended requirement for K in order to assess if there is a risk of inadequate or excess K intake. Food supply data (1961–2011) were obtained from the Food Balance Sheet (FBS) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to derive trends in food and K supply. The average food supply in the FBS for 2010 and 2011 was used in assessing the risk of inadequate or excess dietary intake of K. The K content of the food items was obtained from food composition databases. Based on 2010-2011 average data, the K supply per capita per day was approximately 9,086 mg, about 2.6-fold larger than the WHO-recommended level (3,510 mg). The assessment suggests a potentially large risk of excess dietary K supply at both individual and population levels. The results suggest the need for assessing options for managing K excess as part of food security and public health strategies. The results further underscore a need for assessment of the K status of staple food crops and mixed diets, as well as K management in food crop production systems in Ghana.
Food insecurity and poverty rates in Ghana are highest in the districts from latitude 8° N upwards. These have motivated several interventions aimed at addressing the food insecurity via promoting agricultural growth. An assessment of the overall impact of these interventions on food security is necessary to guide policy design and future interventions. A systematic review was used to assess the cumulative evidence of the effect of development interventions, implemented from 2006 to 2016 on food security, especially in Northern Ghana. Information were retrieved from over 20 Government and non-Governmental organisations through online search and actual visits. The number of studies included in systematic review was 22. The study showed that a large number of interventions have been implemented in Northern Ghana over the study period. Access to quality extension services, training and capacity building was a major intervention strategy. About 82% of studies considered increasing production but only 14% of the studies reported on changes in yield. About 42% of the included studies used market access as a strategy but about 44% reported increase in incomes of beneficiaries (with only seven studies providing numerical evidence for this claim). The ranking of frequency of intervention strategies was in the order extension and capacity building > production > postharvest value addition > water and irrigation facilities > storage facilities > input supply. A substantial number of the studies had no counterfactuals, weakening confidence in attributing impacts on food security for even the beneficiaries. It is concluded that evidence for impacts of the interventions on food security was weak, or largely assumed. A logical recommendation is the need for development partners to synchronise their measurement and indicators of food security outcomes. It is also recommended that some food security indicators are explicitly incorporated into intervention design while bearing in mind the potential need for counterfactuals.
Evaluating the complex interactions between malaria and cholera prevalence, neglected tropical disease comorbidities, an...Published: 07 July 2017 by Informa UK Limited in Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment
Effectiveness of interventions to reduce household air pollution and/or improve health in homes using solid fuel in low-...Published: 01 June 2017 by Elsevier BV in Environment International
Cookstove intervention programs have been increasing over the past two (2) decades in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) across the globe. However, there remains uncertainty regarding the effects of these interventions on household air pollution concentrations, personal exposure concentrations and health outcomes.
Modelling spatio-temporal heterogeneities in groundwater quality in Ghana: a multivariate chemometric approachPublished: 26 May 2017 by IWA Publishing in Journal of Water and Health
Chemometric techniques were applied to evaluate the spatial and temporal heterogeneities in groundwater quality data for approximately 740 goldmining and agriculture-intensive locations in Ghana. The strongest linear and monotonic relationships occurred between Mn and Fe. Sixty-nine per cent of total variance in the dataset was explained by four variance factors: physicochemical properties, bacteriological quality, natural geologic attributes and anthropogenic factors (artisanal goldmining). There was evidence of significant differences in means of all trace metals and physicochemical parameters (p < 0.0001) between goldmining and non-goldmining locations. Arsenic and turbidity produced very high value Fs demonstrating that ‘physical properties and chalcophilic elements’ was the function that most discriminated between non-goldmining and goldmining locations. Variations in Escherichia coli and total coliforms were observed between the dry and wet seasons. The overall predictive accuracy of the discriminant function showed that non-goldmining locations were classified with slightly better accuracy (89%) than goldmining areas (69.6%). There were significant differences between the underlying distributions of Cd, Mn and Pb in the wet and dry seasons. This study emphasizes the practicality of chemometrics in the assessment and elucidation of complex water quality datasets to promote effective management of groundwater resources for sustaining human health.
Assessment of the Transesterification Stage of Biodiesel Production II: Optimisation of Process Variables Using a Box-Be...Published: 03 March 2017 by Springer Nature in Waste and Biomass Valorization
The unusual suspects? Perception of underlying causes of anthropogenic climate change in coastal communities in Cambodia...Published: 23 February 2017 by Informa UK Limited in Journal of Environmental Planning and Management
Genetically modified organisms and the age of (Un) reason? A critical examination of the rhetoric in the GMO public poli...Published: 01 October 2016 by Elsevier BV in Futures
HighlightsThe public debate on GMOs is one of the most controversial science-policy issues of the 21st century. In sub-Saharan Africa, where food shortages and food insecurity are rife, the polar debate on the socio-economic benefits and human health risks of GMOs has been mounting in the past decade. Increasingly, scientists, advocacy groups and civil society have coalesced around key policy issues in the debate in Ghana and several parts of the African continent in order to shift the thinking of the public on one of the most contentious environmental debates of our time. These local advocacy coalitions are legitimised by their partnership with international forces and in their use of evidence-based narratives and rhetoric. AbstractUsing narrative policy analysis we examined the adversarial rhetoric of claims-makers in their bid to undermine alternative and conflicting accounts of GMOs as environmental and human health risk and to forestall any challenges to the scientific authority of the technological deterministic account of the GMO policy debates in Ghana. The study shows that the GMO discourse was built with the rhetorical frames of smallholder farmer vulnerability and entitlement used in the account it contradicts, thereby legitimating its own appeal for responsive remedies. Civil society claims attacked GMOs as discriminatory and as an environmental and human health risk. Government and scientists engaged in unsympathetic counter rhetorical strategies in hopes of debunking or neutralizing the claim made by civil society. In other words, Government and scientists were denying the claim that GMO was discriminatory and posed significant human health risk, as well as the call to action to do something about GMOs. Civil society adapted the counter rhetoric of insincerity, claiming that scientists had some kind of “hidden agenda” behind their claim, such as eagerness to just earn money from their patents on GMOs. It is imperative that communication on GMOs includes the underlying assumptions, the uncertainties and the probabilities associated with both best and worst case scenarios. This is a necessary condition to minimise misinformation on GMOs but may be insufficient to completely erase conspiracy theories from the minds of the public especially when scientists and government are perceived to be biased towards multinational corporations that are ostensibly preoccupied with making profits.
Associations between pesticide use and respiratory symptoms: A cross-sectional study in Southern GhanaPublished: 01 October 2016 by Elsevier BV in Environmental Research
Highlights•Indiscriminate use of pesticides is common amongst farmers in Low and Middle Income Countries.•We examined associations between pesticide use and respiratory symptoms.•The concentration of organochlorine and pyrethroid pesticides was assayed in urine.•Significant exposure-response associations for beta-HCH, heptachlor and endosulfan sulfate were noted. AbstractBackgroundIndiscriminate use of pesticides is a common practice amongst farmers in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC) across the globe. However, there is little evidence defining whether pesticide use is associated with respiratory symptoms.ObjectivesThis cross-sectional study was conducted with 300 vegetable farmers in southern Ghana (Akumadan). Data on pesticide use was collected with an interviewed-administered questionnaire. The concentration of seven organochlorine pesticides and 3 pyrethroid pesticides was assayed in urine collected from a sub-population of 100 vegetable farmers by a gas chromatograph equipped with an electron capture detector (GC-ECD).ResultsA statistically significant exposure-response relationship of years per day spent mixing/applying fumigant with wheezing [30–60 days/year: prevalence ratio (PR)=1.80 (95% CI 1.30, 2.50); >60days/year: 3.25 (1.70–6.33), p for trend=0.003] and hours per day spent mixing/applying fumigant with wheezing [1–2 h/day: 1.20 (1.02–1.41), 3–5 h/day: 1.45 (1.05–1.99), >5 h/day: 1.74 (1.07–2.81), p for trend=0.0225]; days per year spent mixing/applying fungicide with wheezing [30–60 days/year: 2.04 (1.31–3.17); >60days/year: 4.16 (1.72–10.08), p for trend=0.0017] and h per day spent mixing/applying fungicide with phlegm production [1–2 h/day: 1.25 (1.05–1.47), 3–5 h/day: 1.55 (1.11–2.17), >5 h/day: 1.93 (1.17–3.19), p for trend=0.0028] and with wheezing [1–2 h/day: 1.10 (1.00–1.50), 3–5 h/day: 1.20 (1.11–1.72), >5 h/day: 1.32 (1.09–2.53), p for trend=0.0088]; h per day spent mixing/applying insecticide with phlegm production [1–2 h/day: 1.23 (1.09–1.62), 3–5 h/day: 1.51 (1.20–2.58), >5 h/day: 1.85 (1.31–4.15), p for trend=0.0387] and wheezing [1–2 h/day: 1.22 (1.02–1.46), 3–5 h/day: 1.49 (1.04–2.12), >5 h/day: 1.81 (1.07–3.08), p for trend=0.0185] were observed. Statistically significant exposure-response association was also observed for a combination of activities that exposes farmers to pesticide with all 3 respiratory symptoms. Furthermore, significant exposure-response associations for 3 organochlorine insecticides: beta-HCH, heptachlor and endosulfan sulfate were noted.ConclusionsIn conclusion, vegetable farmers in Ghana may be at increased risk for respiratory symptoms as a result of exposure to pesticides.
Soils generate agricultural, environmental, and socio-economic benefits that are vital to human life. The enormity of threats to global soil stocks raises the imperative for securing this vital resource. To contribute to the security framing and advancement of the soil security concept and discourse, this paper provides a working definition and proposes dimensions that can underpin the conceptualization of soil security. In this paper, soil security refers to safeguarding and improving the quality, quantity and functionality of soil stocks from critical and pervasive threats in order to guarantee the availability, access, and utilization of soils to sustainably generate productive goods and ecosystem services. The dimensions proposed are availability, accessibility, utilization, and stability, which are obviously similar to the dimensions of food security. Availability refers to the quality and spatial distribution of soils of a given category. Accessibility relates to the conditions or mechanisms by which actors negotiate and gain entitlements to occupy and use a given soil. Utilization deals with the use or purpose to which a given soil is put and the capacity to manage and generate optimal private and public benefits from the soil. Finally, stability refers to the governance mechanisms that safeguard and improve the first three dimensions. These dimensions, their interactions, and how they can be operationalized in a strategy to secure soils are presented and discussed.
A systematic review of resource habitat taboos and human health outcomes in the context of global environmental changePublished: 10 August 2016 by Informa UK Limited in Global Bioethics
The dependence of humans on the ecosystem services that natural resources provide is absolute. The need for social taboos as frameworks for governing natural resource abstraction is gaining widespread recognition especially within the context of climate change. However, the complex relationship between resource and habitat taboos (RHTs) and human health is not entirely understood. We conducted a systematic review of existing studies of the association between RHTs and human health outcomes, focusing on the best evidence available. We searched JSTOR, SocINDEX, Greenfile and Academic Search Complete databases from 1970 to July 2015; and also searched the reference lists of reviews and relevant articles. About 779 studies and data from 26 studies were eligible for the analysis. Only 9 out of 26 studies clearly linked RHTs to human health. Overall, nine taboos, spatial, temporal, gear, method, effort, catch, species-specific, life history and segment, were covered by the empirical studies. This systematic review provides new evidence of relationships between RHTs and human health outcomes. Several methodological limitations were identified in the empirical material. The findings suggest the need for context-specific conservation policies to reduce erosion of RHTs in order to sustain human health in the face of climate change.
Assessment of the Transesterification Stage of Biodiesel Production I: Application of a Plackett–Burman Design to Select...Published: 27 May 2016 by Springer Nature in Waste and Biomass Valorization
Although the independent effects of the predictors of the yield in transesterification are well documented, there are still gaps in our current understanding of how specific process variables cumulatively influence the yield of biodiesel. In this study, a two-level Plackett–Burman experimental design was used to assess the set of active process variables that most decisively influence the yield of biodiesel in transesterification. The results of the model in which the parameters were entered at once show in decreasing order, the magnitude of the effect of the process variables on the yield was as follows: amount of FFA > weight of catatlyst > rate of stirring > duration of reaction > temperature > methanol for the ranges of values that were studied. In the sequential/nested ordinary least squares regression model, the order of importance of the predictors was almost maintained however the coefficients varied somewhat. This indicates that the level and the order of entry of variables within each level makes a fundamental difference to the results. The methanol-oil ratio had no influence on biofuel yield within the range of values studied. Overall, the adjusted model in which most of the variables had been taken into consideration explained approximately 94 % of the total variance in the data.
Floods in the Douala metropolis, Cameroon: attribution to changes in rainfall characteristics or planning failures?Published: 16 May 2016 by Informa UK Limited in Journal of Environmental Planning and Management
With urban populations worldwide expected to witness substantial growth over the next decades, pressure on urban land and resources is projected to increase in response. For policy-makers to adequately meet the challenges brought about by changes in the dynamics of urban areas, it is important to clearly identify and communicate their causes. Floods in Douala (the most densely populated city in the central African sub-region), are being associated chiefly with changing rainfall patterns, resulting from climate change in major policy circles. We investigate this contention using statistical analysis of daily rainfall time-series data covering the period 1951–2008, and tools of geographic information systems. Using attributes such as rainfall anomalies, trends in the rainfall time series, daily rainfall maxima and rainfall intensity–duration–frequency, we find no explanation for the attribution of an increase in the occurrences and severity of floods to changing rainfall patterns. The culprit seems to be the massive increase in the population of Douala, in association with poor planning and investment in the city's infrastructure. These demographic changes and poor planning have occurred within a physical geography setting that is conducive for the inducement of floods. Failed urban planning in Cameroon since independence set the city up for a flood-prone land colonization. This today translates to a situation in which large portions of the city's surface area and the populations they harbor are vulnerable to the city's habitual annual floods. While climate change stands to render the city even more vulnerable to floods, there is no evidence that current floods can be attributed to the changes in patterns of rainfall being reported in policy and news domains.
Unsafe Occupational Health Behaviors: Understanding Mercury-Related Environmental Health Risks to Artisanal Gold Miners ...Published: 25 April 2016 by Frontiers Media SA in Frontiers in Environmental Science
The relationships between environmental exposure and health outcomes are complex, multidirectional, and dynamic. Therefore, it is required to have an understanding of these linkages for effective health risk communication. Artisanal gold mining is widespread globally, in spite of its associated health hazards, with an estimated 30 million people engaged in it. In this study, the relationships between artisanal gold miners knowledge of environmental and health effects of mercury (Hg) and compositional, contextual and occupational factors were assessed using generalized linear models (GLM) (negative log-log regression). A cross-sectional survey in three urban gold mining hubs in Ghana (Prestea, Tarkwa and Damang), was carried out among 588 (482 male and 106 female) artisanal gold miners. The results showed that 89% of artisanal gold miners had very low to low levels of knowledge whereas 11% had moderate to very high levels of knowledge of deleterious health effects of Hg. Also, individuals who perceived their health-related working conditions to be excellent had very low to low levels of knowledge of environmental and health effects of Hg. Interestingly, artisanal gold miners who were still working were less likely to know the environmental and health effects of Hg compared with their counterparts who were currently unemployed. Similarly, artisanal gold miners who had attained either primary or secondary education were less likely to know the environmental and health effects of Hg compared with their counterparts who had no formal education. This finding, although counterintuitive, can be understood within the context that artisanal gold miners in Ghana without formal education tend to have considerably higher number of years of practical experience compared with their counterparts with formal education. Based on odds ratios (OR), female artisanal gold miners were 68% less likely to know the environmental and health effects of Hg compared with their male counterparts (OR = 0.32, p < 0.05). Artisanal gold miners who had previously encountered occupational health problems were significantly far more likely to know the environmental and health effects of Hg compared with their counterparts without any previous occupational health problems (OR = 4.86, p < 0.0001). Although artisanal gold miners who are 25–34 years old were more likely to know than their counterparts who are 18–24 years old, there were no differences in knowledge between those who are 35 years or older and their counterparts who are 18–24 years old. These results emphasize the complex relationships between compositional, contextual and occupational factors on the one hand, and artisanal gold miners' knowledge of environmental and health effects of Hg, on the other hand. Some policy implications of the findings suggest that a more systematic approach to the development and evaluation of interventions to phase out Hg use in artisanal gold mining is desirable, with clearer recognition of the interrelationships between compositional factors of artisanal gold miners and their persistent reliance on Hg in the gold extraction process.
Working conditions of male and female artisanal and small-scale goldminers in Ghana: Examining existing disparitiesPublished: 01 April 2016 by Elsevier BV in The Extractive Industries and Society
Highlights•We present the first quantitative assessment of existing disparities in the working conditions between men and women artisanal and small-scale goldminers in Ghana.•Working conditions were conceptualised as a composite score of environment, health, safety and economic dimensions.•Counterfactual decomposition and multivariate regression techniques were used to explain the gap in working conditions between men and women artisanal and small-scale gold miners.•The productive characteristics of women and men artisanal and small-scale goldminers explain only about 33% of the gap in environment, health, safety and economic working conditions between the two groups. AbstractArtisanal and small scale mining (ASM) provides a livelihood to more than 100 million men and women worldwide, mostly in the global south. Although the sector is male-dominated, the number of women engaged in its activities has increased dramatically in recent years, underscoring the need for critical assessment of their environmental, health and safety working conditions. Based on a cross-sectional survey of 482 male and 106 female artisanal and small-scale goldminers in Ghana, this study examines the disparities in the mean scores of the environment, health, safety and economic working conditions between male and female goldminers. Using four counterfactual decomposition techniques, inequality in working conditions was disaggregated according to group differences in the magnitudes of the determinants and group differences in the effects of the determinants. The difference in the mean values of the estimated coefficients accounts for much of the difference in environment, health, safety, and economic working conditions between the male and female artisanal and small-scale goldminers. This implies that the gap in working conditions between the two groups may be attributed to discrimination, but it may also emanate from the influence of unobserved variables. Gender-specific differences exist for the artisanal and small-scale goldminers surveyed: age and years of experience are salient for men, whereas education and number of years lived in the community are more important for women.
Rooting media used in current root phenotyping studies can have substantial effect. In this study, the effects of three different nutrient conducting papers (Black construction paper, Anchor blue germination paper and Kimpak paper) and soil-filled boxes on root growth and root system architecture (RSA) of Brassica rapa (cultivars ‘R500’ and ‘IMB211’) were investigated. Seedlings of the two B. rapa genotypes were supplied with nutrients on the nutrient conducting papers and in the soil-filled boxes. The papers and soil-filled boxes were fixed to flatbed scanners and two-dimensional images of roots were periodically taken and analysed. Root media effects on shoot and root biomass and on topological indices (TI) were observed. For example, root branching was more pronounced on the construction paper. Mean TI of 0.82 and 0.93, recorded for R500 and IMB211, respectively, on the construction paper indicated that substrates affect the herringbone pattern of brassica roots. Whilst it was indicated that different results could be obtained for the same RSA when different germination papers are used, the results showed that Anchor blue germination paper is an ideal proxy for soil in phenotyping seedlings for RSA traits and root growth.
Assessing the Environmental and Socio-Economic Impacts of Artisanal Gold Mining on the Livelihoods of Communities in the...Published: 26 January 2016 by MDPI in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Gold mining has played an important role in Ghana’s economy, however the negative environmental and socio-economic effects on the host communities associated with gold mining have overshadowed these economic gains. It is within this context that this paper assessed in an integrated manner the environmental and socio-economic impacts of artisanal gold mining in the Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipality from a natural and social science perspective. The natural science group collected 200 random samples on bi-weekly basis between January to October 2013 from water bodies in the study area for analysis in line with methods outlined by the American Water Works Association, while the social science team interviewed 250 residents randomly selected for interviews on socio-economic issues associated with mining. Data from the socio-economic survey was analyzed using logistic regression with SPSS version 17. The results of the natural science investigation revealed that the levels of heavy metals in water samples from the study area in most cases exceeded GS 175-1/WHO permissible guideline values, which are in tandem with the results of inhabitants’ perceptions of water quality survey (as 83% of the respondents are of the view that water bodies in the study area are polluted). This calls for cost-benefits analysis of mining before new mining leases are granted by the relevant authorities.
Human Health Risk Assessment of Artisanal Miners Exposed to Toxic Chemicals in Water and Sediments in the PresteaHuni Va...Published: 18 January 2016 by MDPI in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
A human health risk assessment of artisanal miners exposed to toxic metals in water bodies and sediments in the PresteaHuni Valley District of Ghana was carried out in this study, in line with US EPA risk assessment guidelines. A total of 70 water and 30 sediment samples were collected from surface water bodies in areas impacted by the operations of artisanal small-scale gold mines in the study area and analyzed for physico-chemical parameters such as pH, TDS, conductivity, turbidity as well as metals and metalloids such as As, Cd, Hg and Pb at CSIR—Water Research Institute using standard methods for the examination of wastewater as outlined by American Water Works Association (AWWA). The mean concentrations of As, Cd, Hg and Pb in water samples ranged from 15 μg/L to 325 μg/L (As), 0.17 μg/L to 340 μg/L (Cd), 0.17 μg/L to 122 μg/L (Pb) and 132 μg/L to 866 μg/L (Hg), respectively. These measured concentrations of arsenic (As), mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb) were used as input parameters to calculate the cancer and non-cancer health risks from exposure to these metals in surface water bodies and sediments based on an occupational exposure scenario using central tendency exposure (CTE) and reasonable maximum exposure (RME) parameters. The results of the non-cancer human health risk assessment for small-scale miners working around river Anikoko expressed in terms of hazard quotients based on CTE parameters are as follows: 0.04 (Cd), 1.45 (Pb), 4.60 (Hg) and 1.98 (As); while cancer health risk faced by ASGM miners in Dumase exposed to As in River Mansi via oral ingestion of water is 3.1 × 10−3. The hazard quotient results obtained from this study in most cases were above the HQ guidance value of 1.0, furthermore the cancer health risk results were found to be higher than the USEPA guidance value of 1 × 10−4 to 1 × 10−6. These findings call for case-control epidemiological studies to establish the relationship between exposure to the aforementioned toxic chemicals and diseases associated with them as identified in other studies conducted in different countries as basis for developing policy interventions to address the issue of ASGM mine workers safety in Ghana.
Evaluating Differences in Barriers to Climate Change Adaptation Between the Poor and Nonpoor in Coastal TanzaniaPublished: 17 January 2016 by Springer Nature in Climate Change Management
Factors of vulnerability: How large-scale land acquisitions take advantage of local and national weaknesses in Sierra Le...Published: 01 January 2016 by Elsevier BV in Land Use Policy
Highlights•Land investors take advantage of poor socio-economic factors of local communities.•Promises of development persuade people to accept largescale land investments.•Poor governance at the national level equals vulnerability of local people in deals.•Legal and institutional frameworks can protect rights and interests of local people. AbstractEnticing economic benefits for host nations and the notion of large areas of land considered available are often put forward as the main reasons for large-scale land acquisition in many areas of sub-Saharan Africa. However, country-level datasets of land acquisitions seem to indicate a clear divide between a majority of countries engaged in land acquisitions as investors and those involved as targets. We posit that there are socio-economic and governance factors that make the engagement between targets of land acquisitions and investors both unequal and attractive to large-scale investments. We then ask the question: what are the factors that make communities vulnerable to an unequal engagement with large-scale land-investing interests in Sierra Leone? We explore this question using local-level socio-economic data of households and communities in two settings where land acquisitions have occurred in Sierra Leone. We find that socio-economic characteristics of local populations, such as levels of education, the powerful role of traditional chiefs and corruption, make these areas easier targets for such land investments. Investors also exploit the poor economic situation of local areas by making alluring promises of development opportunities. The vulnerability of local people to land investors is further undermined by poor governance at the national level and external politico-financial interest in favor of such investments. Local populations are vulnerable to organized campaigns of land acquisitions by multi-national companies. Proper legal and institutional frameworks are required to protect local interests in these land deals.
Adequate dietary intake of potassium (K) helps fight noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), mainly hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. This paper (i) estimated the K intake of Ghanaian population using food supply and food composition data and (ii) compared this estimate with the WHO recommended requirement for K in order to assess if there is a risk of inadequate K intake. Food supply data (1961–2011) was obtained from the FAO Food Balance Sheet (FBS) to derive trends in food and K supply. The average food supply in the FBS for 2010 and 2011 was used in assessing the risk of inadequate dietary intake of K. The K contents of the food items were obtained from food composition databases. The mean K supply per capita per day was approximately 856 mg. The assessment suggests a potentially large risk of inadequate dietary K supply at both individual and population levels. The results suggest the need for assessing options for managing K deficiency, including assessment of K supplying power of soils and K fertilizer management in food crop production systems, as well as empirical estimates of K content of food items (including those underreported in the FBS) and mixed diets in Ghana.1. IntroductionPotassium (K) is an essential element which plays crucial roles in the nutrition and health of plants, animals, and humans. Potassium is known to activate over 60 enzymes in plants, promotes photosynthesis, plays a role in stomata opening, use of nitrogen, transport of assimilates, and microbial population in the rhizosphere [1–3]. Major roles of K in humans and animals include maintenance of water balance, osmotic pressure and acid-base balance, activation of enzymes, mediation of carbohydrate, and protein metabolism. More importantly, potassium plays a crucial role in the regulation of neuromuscular activity and heartbeat [4, 5].Inadequate intake of vitamins and mineral elements (known as the “hidden hunger”) has adverse health outcomes and is a global health and food security challenge. As a result, hidden hunger has received increased policy, research, and practical attention, especially with regard to vitamin A, iron, iodine, zinc, and selenium . Globally, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) constitute a major contributor to mortality and morbidity [7, 8]. There is a strong evidence of association between low K intake and increased risk of a number of NCDs, including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney stone formation, and low bone-mineral density [4, 9–12]. Hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, notably coronary heart disease and stroke . Yet, the instrumental role of adequate K intake, through food, and its cost-effectiveness in combating the global burden of NCDs is only beginning to attract priority attention .In Ghana, hypertension is a major public health problem . Between 1988 and 2007, the number of new cases of hypertension reported in public health facilities increased from 49,087 to 505,180 . Crude prevalence of hypertension in Ghana (based on 140/90 mmHg threshold) is between 25% and 48%, with higher prevalence in urban populations . Hypertension is the second leading cause of outpatient morbidity (after malaria) in the Greater Accra Region . Stroke and hypertension are among the leading causes of hospital admission and death in Ghana . Hypertension has been identified as an important cause of heart and renal failure in Ghana [15, 16].Due to its moderating role in hypertension and cardiovascular diseases, K-rich diets (especially fruits and vegetables) are now highly recommended to reduce high blood pressure . However, the reported average K intake from diets in several countries is below recommended levels . Diets are the main source of K intake in humans. The K content of food components largely derives from the soils on which feed and food crops are grown. Yet, the K status of soils and fertilizer management in most agroecosystems continue to receive less attention, and this is particularly so in Ghana [3, 5]. To draw attention to the need to pay much attention to K flows from farm to fork, this paper therefore assessed the risk of insufficient dietary supply of K in adult Ghanaian population using food supply and composition data.2. Methods2.1. K Supply from FoodsPrevalence of K deficiency can be assessed directly via the analysis of urine or blood samples. In the absence of such analysis and for larger population size, the deficiency of K can be quantified via food surveys or dietary analysis using food composition data  even though food surveys data can be biased by systematic misreporting and behavioural change . Where there is paucity of data on representative food surveys or food composition tables, as is the case for Ghana, alternative sources of data such as the Food Balance Sheet (FBS) provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) can be used to indirectly quantify the adequacy of K intake as has been done in similar studies (e.g., [20, 21]). Hence, the current study used the FBS data to indirectly quantify the risk of inadequate K intake in Ghana. A FBS provides a snapshot of the supply and uses of about 92 food items/groups for each of FAO member countries during a given reference period . The FBS has supply and utilization sides. For a given reference period and food item, total supply is the sum of total domestic production and imports, adjusted to changes in stocks that might have occurred since the beginning of the reference period. On the utilization side, the total supply of the given food item is decomposed into quantities exported, used for animal feed and seed, processed for food and nonfood uses, losses, and the fraction available for human consumption [22, 23]. The fraction of supply of the food item available for human consumption is divided by the total population of a given country to obtain the per capita supply. Thus, the FBS does not directly provide information on food consumption but on food availability, which was used as a proxy for consumption in the current study.The average food supply per person for the latest years (2010 and 2011) in the FBS was computed. This was done to capture minimum interannual variation in food availability or consumption. Food items were selected from the FBS based on the kg food supply per person. The dietary K supply per person was estimated as the product of per capita food supply (based on the FBS) and the K content of the food items [24, 25]. The K content or supply of each food component was calculated using the corresponding conversion factors for the edible fraction provided in the food composition table. The K contents of the food components (except for cocoa and products, oats, crustaceans, cephalopods, and other molluscs) were obtained from the West African Food Composition Table . The K contents of the food items that were not found in West African Food Composition Table , such as cocoa and products, were obtained from the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) Nutrient Database for Standard Reference . This method has been applied previously in studies that estimated the adequacy or otherwise of minerals in the diets of populations in some countries (see [6, 21, 24, 25, 28]).To build the final database of K contents of selected food items, food items were excluded if the product of supply and K content was zero or if that particular food component is not known to be widely or commonly consumed in Ghana according to local knowledge. In the food composition databases, effort was made to identify the categories of food items that best matched those in the FBS . Where two or more categories of the same food items are consumed in Ghana according to local knowledge, an average K content was computed to represent that food item (see Table 2). The total K supply (or intake) per person was calculated as the sum of the products of food supply and K composition of all the food items as described earlier. All K contents or concentration data are expressed as mg 100 g−1 fresh weight edible portion. The per capita food supply and associated K supply for the period 1961–2011 were computed using the FBS and the food composition table, with a similar approach as described earlier, to obtain the trends.2.2. Adequacy of K Supply from FoodThe likely risk of inadequate dietary supply of K was assessed at the individual level, and then the prevalence of deficiency at population level was estimated using the EAR cut-point approach [24, 25, 29]. A detailed description of this approach, its strengths, and assumptions are provided in Food and Nutrition Board . Due to paucity of information, the recommended K intake for adults, 3510 mg K per person per day , was used in the current study as the reference nutrient intake (RNI). The RNI represents the intake level of a mineral which meets the nutrient requirements of 97.5% apparently healthy individuals in a population group for a given age and sex . Again, due to paucity of information, we used a standard conversion of RNI 1.2EAR (as Joy et al.  used for Mg and explained by Allen et al. ) to convert the RNI to an estimated average requirement (EAR) of 2925 mg.To assess the risk of inadequacy at the individual level, the EAR value was used to represent the “required mean K intake” (), while the total K supply (based on the FBS and food composition data) represented the “observed mean intake” (). The difference between and , , gives an initial impression of the adequacy or otherwise of K intake per person. To allow a probability of correct conclusion on the adequacy of intake, the magnitude and direction (positive or negative) of the ratio of and its standard deviation () were estimated . represents the daily variation in individual intake of K. To calculate , the standard deviation of the required intake () was estimated at 10% and 1
Does Previous Experience of Floods Stimulate the Adoption of Coping Strategies? Evidence from Cross Sectional Surveys in...Published: 20 November 2015 by MDPI in Environments
In sub-Saharan Africa, hydro-meteorological related disasters, such as floods, account for the majority of the total number of natural disasters. Over the past century, floods have affected 38 million people, claimed several lives and caused substantial economic losses in the region. The goal of this paper is to examine how personality disposition, social network, and socio-demographic factors mitigate the complex relationship between stressful life experiences of floods and ocean surges and the adoption of coping strategies among coastal communities in Nigeria and Tanzania. Generalized linear models (GLM) were fitted to cross-sectional survey data on 1003 and 1253 individuals in three contiguous coastal areas in Nigeria and Tanzania, respectively. Marked differences in the type of coping strategies were observed across the two countries. In Tanzania, the zero-order relationships between adoption of coping strategies and age, employment and income disappeared at the multivariate level. Only experience of floods in the past year and social network resources were significant predictors of participants’ adoption of coping strategies, unlike in Nigeria, where a plethora of factors such as experience of ocean surges in the past one year, personality disposition, age, education, experience of flood in the past one year, ethnicity, income, housing quality and employment status were still statistically significant at the multivariate level. Our findings suggest that influence of previous experience on adoption of coping strategies is spatially ubiquitous. Consequently, context-specific policies aimed at encouraging the adoption of flood-related coping strategies in vulnerable locations should be designed based on local needs and orientation.
Out of the frying pan into the fire? Urban penalty of the poor and multiple barriers to climate change adaptation in Cam...Published: 01 October 2015 by Springer Nature in Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences
Historical Perspective and Risk of Multiple Neglected Tropical Diseases in Coastal Tanzania: Compositional and Contextua...Published: 04 August 2015 by Public Library of Science (PLoS) in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
In the past decade, research on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) has intensified in response to the need to enhance community participation in health delivery, establish monitoring and surveillance systems, and integrate existing disease-specific treatment programs to control overlapping NTD burdens and detrimental effects. In this paper, we evaluated the geographical distribution of NTDs in coastal Tanzania. We also assessed the collective (compositional and contextual) factors that currently determine risks to multiple NTDs using a cross sectional survey of 1253 individuals in coastal Tanzania. The results show that the effect size in decreasing order of magnitude for non-binary predictors of NTD risks is as follows: NTD comorbidities > poverty > educational attainment > self-reported household quality of life > ethnicity. The multivariate analysis explained 95% of the variance in the relationship between NTD risks and the theoretically-relevant covariates. Compositional (biosocial and sociocultural) factors explained more variance at the neighbourhood level than at the regional level, whereas contextual factors, such as access to health services and household quality, in districts explained a large proportion of variance at the regional level but individually had modest statistical significance, demonstrating the complex interactions between compositional and contextual factors in generating NTD risks. NTD risks were inequitably distributed over geographic space, which has several important policy implications. First, it suggests that localities of high burden of NTDs are likely to diminish within statistical averages at higher (regional or national) levels. Second, it indicates that curative or preventive interventions will become more efficient provided they can be focused on the localities, particularly as populations in these localities are likely to be burdened by several NTDs simultaneously, further increasing the imperative of multi-disease interventions. Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are characterized by their high incidence in low-income countries, thus maintaining the disastrous poverty-disease-poverty cycle. Apart from poverty, however, little is known of the magnitude of importance of both compositional and contextual factors in creating disease risk at the local level, although this knowledge is critical to disease control and policy action. In this study, we show that the order of importance of both sets of factors is as follows: NTD comorbidities > poverty > educational attainment > self-reported household quality of life > ethnicity.
The recent phenomenon of large-scale acquisition of land for a variety of investment purposes has raised deep concerns over the food security, livelihood and socio-economic development of communities in many regions of the developing world. This study set out to investigate the food security outcomes of land acquisitions in northern Sierra Leone. Using a mixture of quantitative and qualitative research methods, the study measures the severity of food insecurity and hunger, compares the situation of food security before and after the onset of operations of a land investing company, analyzes the food security implications of producing own food versus depending on wage labour for household food needs, and evaluates initiatives put in place by the land investing company to mitigate its food insecurity footprint. Results show an increase in the severity of food insecurity and hunger. Household income from agricultural production has fallen. Employment by the land investing company is limited in terms of the number of people it employs relative to the population of communities in which it operates. Also, wages from employment by the company cannot meet the staple food needs of its employees. The programme that has been put in place by the company to mitigate its food insecurity footprint is failing because of a host of reasons that relate to organization and power relations. In conclusion, rural people are better off producing their own food than depending on the corporate structure of land investment companies. Governments should provide an enabling framework to accommodate this food security need, both in land investment operations that are ongoing and in those that are yet to operate.
Association of Arsenic with Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes/Infant Mortality: A Systematic Review and Meta-AnalysisPublished: 01 May 2015 by Environmental Health Perspectives in Environmental Health Perspectives
Exposure to arsenic is one of the major global health problems, affecting > 300 million people worldwide, but arsenic's effects on human reproduction are uncertain.
Women farmers make up a majority of small-scale food producers in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite their important role in the food and livelihood security of their households and communities, women continue to face substantial challenges in their rights of and access to land resources in the region. In a number of countries such as Sierra Leone where large-scale land acquisition is ongoing, we posit that women’s predicament may further deteriorate. Using data drawn from a survey of household and livelihood activities, focus groups and interviews we examine the outcomes of large-scale land acquisitions on women at the local level in two districts in Sierra Leone. We found that first, women depend more on land-based natural resources that directly affect the day-to-day welfare of households (such as firewood and medicinal plants) than men. Second, land acquisitions have led to a significant fall in the incomes of women and men. The effects of the fall of women’s income have more direct and profound consequences on household wellbeing compared with men. Third, men tend to rank the effects of land acquisitions on women lower than women do. We conclude that current social and cultural norms and women’s role in rural societies is complex and predisposes women to negative livelihood processes and outcomes associated with large-scale land acquisitions. Policy interventions designed to address local and national challenges to socio-economic and cultural development should recognize the crucial role played by women and be responsive to their special needs.
Monitored versus experience-based perceptions of environmental change: evidence from coastal TanzaniaPublished: 03 April 2015 by Informa UK Limited in Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences
The impacts of climate change are likely to exacerbate many problems that coastal areas already face. In this study, we used multinomial logistic regression to examine human perception of climate change based on a cross-sectional survey of 1253 individuals in coastal regions of Tanzania. This was complemented with time series analysis of 50-year meteorological data. The results indicate that self-rated ability to handle work pressure, self-rated ability to handle personal pressure and unexpected difficulties, age, region and educational status were significant predictors of perceived temperature change unlike ethnicity and gender. A disproportionately large percentage of respondents of all ages indicated that temperature was getting hotter between the past 10 and 30 years. This observation was supported by the time series analysis. Although respondents also alluded to changes in rainfall patterns in the past 10–30 years, time series analysis of rainfall revealed a different scenario except for Mtwara region of Tanzania. Because there is agreement between respondents' perceptions of temperature and available scientific climatic evidence over the 50-year period, this study argues that when meteorological records are incomplete or unavailable, local perceptions of climatic changes can be used to complement scientific climatic evidence. Based on the spatial differentials in climate change perception observed in this study, there is opportunity for a more locally oriented adaptation dimension to climate policy integration, which has hitherto been underserved by both academics and policymakers.
Effectiveness of interventions to reduce indoor air pollution and/or improve health in homes using solid fuel in lower a...Published: 04 March 2015 by Springer Nature in Systematic Reviews
Indoor air pollution (IAP) interventions are widely promoted as a means of reducing indoor air pollution/health from solid fuel use; and research addressing impact of these interventions has increased substantially in the past two decades. It is timely and important to understand more about effectiveness of these interventions. We describe the protocol of a systematic review to (i) evaluate effectiveness of IAP interventions to improve indoor air quality and/or health in homes using solid fuel for cooking and/or heating in lower- and middle-income countries, (ii) identify the most effective intervention to improve indoor air quality and/or health, and (iii) identify future research needs. This review will be conducted according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines and will be reported following the PRISMA statement. Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid Embase, SCOPUS, and PubMed searches were conducted in September 2013 and updated in November 2014 (and include any further search updates in February 2015). Additional references will be located through searching the references cited by identified studies and through the World Health Organization Global database of household air pollution measurements. We will also search our own archives. Data extraction and risk of bias assessment of all included papers will be conducted independently by five reviewers. The study will provide insights into what interventions are most effective in reducing indoor air pollution and/or adverse health outcomes in homes using solid fuel for cooking or heating in lower- or middle-income countries. The findings from this review will be used to inform future IAP interventions and policy on poverty reduction and health improvement in poor communities who rely on biomass and solid fuels for cooking and heating. The review has been registered with PROSPERO (registration number CRD42014009768 ).
Research on barriers to climate change adaptation has, hitherto, disproportionately focused on institutional barriers. Despite the critical importance of personal barriers in shaping the adaptive response of humanity to climate change and variability, the literature on the subject is rather nascent. This study is premised on the hypothesis that place-specific characteristics (where you live) and compositional (both biosocial and sociocultural) factors may be salient to differentials in adaptation to climate change in coastal areas of developing countries. This is because adaptation to climate change is inherently local. Using cross-sectional survey data on 1,253 individuals (606 males and 647 females), barriers to adaptation to climate change were observed to vary with place, indicating that there is inequality in barriers to adaptation. In the multivariate models, the place-specific differences in barriers to adaptation were robust and remained statistically significant even when socio-demographic (compositional) variables were controlled. Observed differences in barriers to adaptation to climate change in coastal Tanzania mainly reflect strong place-specific disparities among groups indicating the need for adaptation policies that are responsive to processes of socio-institutional learning in a specific context, involving multiple people that have a stake in the present and the future of that place. These people are making complex, multifaceted choices about managing and adapting to climate-related risks and opportunities, often in the face of resource constraints and competing agendas.
Analyzing the Relationship between Objective–Subjective Health Status and Public Perception of Climate Change as a Human...Published: 22 January 2015 by Informa UK Limited in Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: An International Journal
Does the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition impose biotechnology on smallholder farmers in Africa?Published: 02 January 2015 by Informa UK Limited in Global Bioethics
Almost one in three people who live in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are hungry, higher than anywhere else. This magnitude of food insecurity coupled with slow progress in regional integration, disease and epidemics, poor access to markets, gender disparities, lack of land tenure rights, and governance and institutional shortcomings on the continent have been used to justify a narrative for the inclusion of biotechnology in smallholder agriculture in SSA. The fact, however, suggests that even in the face of these challenges, smallholder farmers in SSA still produce 70% of the food on the continent. We critically examine the introduction of biotechnology in smallholder farming within the context of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition and public–private partnerships in SSA. We explicitly address the bioethical concerns and implications for technology adoption goals in line with a neoliberal economic model that is encouraging smallholder farmers to adopt biotechnology as a way to secure more food for communities. This paper is not meant to pose a simplistic pro or anti stance on genetically modified (GM) crops or biotechnology, but rather to situate the debate about GM technology within issues of power, control in the global food agriculture systems, and point to the bioethical concerns that affect the lives of smallholder farmers and their families on a daily basis.
Self-Reported Experiences of Climate Change in Nigeria: The Role of Personal and Socio-Environmental FactorsPublished: 23 December 2014 by MDPI in Climate
In this study, we examined the individual and socio-environmental factors that mediate differential self-reported experiences of climate change in coastal communities in Lagos, Nigeria. Binary complementary log-log multivariate regression was used to model residents’ experiences of changing rainfall patterns, ocean surges, and flood events. An analysis of both compositional and contextual factors showed that there were urban communities where vulnerability to flooding tends to be clustered, and that this was not fully explained by the characteristics of the people of whom the community was composed. This study, thus, underscores the importance and complex nature of the interaction between personal and socio-environmental determinants in shaping climate change experiences and vulnerability of individuals across coastal neighbourhoods. Key findings suggest certain sub-populations as well as geographic clusters in Lagos require special attention from disaster mitigation experts and policy makers.
Land access constraints for communities affected by large-scale land acquisition in Southern Sierra LeonePublished: 01 November 2014 by Springer Nature in GeoJournal
While national figures of land availability are used to justify accepting large-scale land investors, not very much is known about the local level realities of land availability. By combining remotely sensed data with fieldwork, system dynamics modelling and qualitative research methods, we examine local level realities of land use and availability in the Malen Chiefdom of Southern Sierra Leone. Here, local communities are experiencing the outcomes of large-scale investments in oil palm for biodiesel and other industrial purposes by the SOCFIN Agricultural Company. We find that beyond agricultural production, there are other land uses that are vital for the socio-cultural, economic and environmental realities of communities. The Company does not respect engagements promised to local people to set aside buffer zones around living areas to serve as biodiversity corridors. Local communities are severely deprived of agricultural land and other land resources. The operations of SOCFIN do not take account of present or future land needs of local people. A baseline requirement of food crop land should be set aside for each community, to ensure the attainment of food security in communities affected by land acquisitions. Such baseline requirement should be augmented with local level needs assessments to meet new demand for cropland necessitated by changing demography. This model of land planning can be applied to other land use and additional engagements of large-scale land investors.
Phytoremediation potential of indigenous Ghanaian grass and grass-like species grown on used motor oil contaminated soil...Published: 27 May 2014 by The Ecological Society of Korea in Journal of Ecology and Environment
Relationship Between Coliform Bacteria and Water Chemistry in Groundwater Within Gold Mining Environments in GhanaPublished: 20 February 2014 by Springer Nature in Water Quality, Exposure and Health
As in many developing countries, the disease burden from the lack of biologically or chemically safe drinking water is a continuing problem in Ghana. Shallow hand-dug wells and deep boreholes constitute the rural drinking water supply. This is particularly the case in gold mining environments where surface water is commonly contaminated with metalloids and heavy metals. Groundwater samples from 738 wells or boreholes in mining ( \(n\,=\,518\) ) and non-mining areas (controls, \(n\,=\,220\) ) were collected and analyzed to examine the relationship between Escherichia coli (E. coli) and total coliform bacteria, and characteristics such as pH, electrical conductivity, turbidity, total dissolved solids, nitrates, As, Cd, Fe, Mn, and Pb. E. coli and total coliform bacteria, respectively, were detected in 36 and 204 of the 518 groundwater samples in mining locations. E. coli and total coliform bacteria were not detected in any of the groundwater samples collected in non-mining locations. Regression analysis showed that electrical conductivity, As, Cd, Fe, and Pb were significant predictors of E. coli in groundwater in mining areas. Also, regression analysis showed that pH, electrical conductivity, total dissolved solids, turbidity, nitrates, As, and Cd were significant predictors of total coliform bacteria in mining areas. This study demonstrates the need to promptly identify and remediate groundwater sources of drinking water in gold mining communities that potentially have a high risk of disease. It also shows the usefulness of statistical models as tools for guiding local authorities to prevent groundwater contamination.
Night-Time Decibel Hell: Mapping Noise Exposure Zones and Individual Annoyance Ratings in an Urban Environment in GhanaPublished: 01 January 2014 by Hindawi Limited in Scientifica
Although accumulating evidence over the past thirty years indicates that noise is an environmental stressor in residential settings, much of the data emanated from studies in high-intensity, noise impact zones around airports or major roads. Little is known about religious noise, especially at night, which is increasingly a growing concern for both the general public and policy-makers in sub-Saharan Africa. Using geographical information systems (GIS), this study measured and mapped exposure to religious noise in a rapidly urbanising municipality in Ghana. Quantitative noise risk assessment was used to evaluate the risk of religious noise-induced hearing loss to residents in the exposed neighbourhoods. The results show that all neighbourhoods where churches were situated had at least one location with significant risk of noise-induced hearing loss. However, there was no statistically significant relationship between neighbourhoods where religious noise exposure was the highest and where noise annoyance was the highest. The magnitude of the noise values for night-time exposure is remarkable particularly given that excessive night-time noise exposure has the greatest detrimental effect on public health. There is the need to focus on vulnerable groups, sensitive hours of the night, and possible confounding with air pollution in order to wholly address this potential hazard.
A Systematic Review of Heavy Metals of Anthropogenic Origin in Environmental Media and Biota in the Context of Gold Mini...Published: 01 January 2014 by Hindawi Limited in International Scholarly Research Notices
Heavy metal accumulation in the food chain is an issue of global concern because it eventually leads to toxic effects on humans through the water we drink, contaminated soils, crops, and animals. Reports of toxicant levels in environmental media (air, water, and soil) and biota in Ghana were sought in SCOPUS, PubMed, MEDLINE, and EMBASE. Of 1004 bibliographic records identified, 54 studies were included in evidence synthesis. A disproportionately large number of papers (about 80%) focused exclusively on environmental media. Papers focusing on biomonitoring and human health were relatively few. Studies reported a high degree of spatial variability for the concentrations of 8 metals in groundwater. Generally, heavy metal concentrations in soil reported by the studies reviewed were higher than metal concentrations in riverine sediments. Urine and hair were the most common biological markers of heavy metal exposure used by the studies reviewed unlike nails, which were sparingly used. By and large, published results on the levels of heavy metals in goldmine and non-mine workers yielded contradictory results. Mostly, concentrations of heavy metals reported by the studies reviewed for nails were higher than for hair. A high degree of variability in the heavy metal concentrations in human subjects in the studies reviewed is likely due to heterogeneity in physiological states, excretion profiles, and body burdens of individuals. These, in turn, may be a product of genetic polymorphisms influencing detoxification efficiency.
Virtual water and phosphorus gains through rice imports to Ghana: implications for food security policyPublished: 01 January 2014 by Inderscience Publishers in International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology
Artisanal Gold Mining and Mercury Contamination of Surface Water as a Wicked Socio-Environmental Problem: a Sustainabili...Published: 31 October 2013 by MDPI AG in The 3rd World Sustainability Forum
In this research note, artisanal gold mining and its associated mercury pollution of surface water in West Africa is characterized as a socially complex (wicked) problem wherein stakeholders have conflicting interpretations of the problem and the science behind it, as well as different values, goals, and life experiences. For that reason, policy makers, public policy professionals, and other stakeholders who tackle with this problem must go beyond conventional expert and technical knowledge in order to effectively resolve it. In particular, effective solution may necessarily requires holistic, not partial or linear thinking, innovative and flexible approaches, the ability to work across agency boundaries, increasing understanding and stimulating a debate on the application of the accountability framework, effectively engaging stakeholders and citizens in understanding the problem and in identifying possible solutions, a better understanding of behavioral change by policy makers, and tolerating uncertainty and accepting the need for a long-term focus.
Most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa including Ghana still depend extensively on unprocessed solid cooking fuels with many people exposed on a daily basis to harmful emissions and other health risks. In this study, using complementary log-log multivariate models, we estimated the health effects of exposure to smoke from unprocessed wood in four regions of Ghana while controlling for socio-environmental and socio-demographic factors. The results show that the distribution of self-reported exposure to smoke was highest among participants in the Northern region, rural dwellers, the 25-49 age groups, individuals with no education, and married women. As expected, exposure to smoke was higher in crowded households and in communities without basic social amenities. Region, residential locality, housing quality (type of roofing, floor and exterior materials), self-reported housing condition, and access to toilet facilities were associated with self-reported exposure to solid fuel smoke. Participants living in urban areas were less likely (OR = 0.82, ρ ≤ 0.01) to be exposed to solid fuel smoke compared to their rural counterparts. An inverse relationship between self-reported housing condition and exposure to solid fuel smoke was observed and persisted even after adjustments were made for confounding variables in the demographic model. In Ghana, the cost and intermittent shortages of liquefied petroleum gas and other alternative fuel sources hold implications for the willingness of the poor to shift to their use. Thus, the poorest rural populations with nearly no cash income and electricity, but with access to wood and/or agricultural waste, are unlikely to move to clean fuels or use significantly improved stoves without large subsidies, which are usually not sustainable. However, there appears to be large populations between these extremes that can be targeted by efforts to introduce improved stoves.
Management of natural resources in a conflicting environment in Ghana: unmasking a messy policy problemPublished: 03 October 2013 by Informa UK Limited in Journal of Environmental Planning and Management
Electronic Waste is a Mess: Awareness and Proenvironmental Behavior Among University Students in GhanaPublished: 01 October 2013 by Informa UK Limited in Applied Environmental Education & Communication
E-waste contains hazardous chemicals and materials that threaten the environment and human health, when improperly disposed. This study examined levels of awareness of e-waste disposal among university students in Ghana, and their proenvironmental decision-making using two outcome variables: knowledge on environmental impact and policy issues (EIPI) and environmental behavior and sustainability (EBS). Reliability estimates (Cronbach's alpha) for the two outcomes variables were 0.91 and 0.72, respectively. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were used to explore and determine the underlying factor structure for the latent constructs employed as dependent variables; and to verify the factor structure while testing the relationships between observed indicators and their underlying latent constructs. Ordinary Least Square techniques were then used to examine the effects of theoretically relevant covariates on the selected dependent variables. Results indicate satisfactory model adequacy, (χ2=33.59, df = 29; p < 0.255; RMSEA = 0.01). Awareness of e-waste among the students was generally low. Students’ awareness of e-waste contamination of air and soil (effects) was higher than their awareness of acceptable e-waste practices (change strategies) or environmental policy (vision). Gender and level of study were both positively related to environmental behavior and sustainability (EBS). Compared to females, males scored higher (b = 0.192) on EBS. Students in the lower levels of their university education scored higher (b = 0.256) on EBS, compared to those in upper years of university. Also, students in the lower levels of university scored higher on knowledge of environmental impact and policy (b = .0175), compared to those in upper years of university.
An Intensity Analysis of land-use and land-cover change in Karatu District, Tanzania: community perceptions and coping s...Published: 18 September 2013 by Informa UK Limited in African Geographical Review
Land-use and land-cover changes (LULCCs) are the result of complex interactions between the human (cultural, socio-economic and political) and the biophysical environment at different spatial scales. The present study assessed the spatial distribution of LULC (1976–2008) in the high and low altitude zones in the northern highlands of Karatu, Tanzania, using both qualitative (in-depth interviews and focus group discussions) and quantitative techniques (Intensity Analysis). The qualitative approach was used to elicit information on the coping strategies adopted by land users as transitions occurred with time and the Intensity Analysis was used to assess the systematic land losses, gains and persistence of the various land categories with time. The results of the Intensity Analysis show that overall land transformation is decelerating in both agro-ecological zones across the two time intervals. In the low altitude zone, woodland, settlements and bushland are active categories unlike cultivated and grassland, which are dormant. In the low altitude zone, grassland systematically loses to cultivated areas during both time intervals. However, in the high altitude zone, forest systematically loses to woodland during both time intervals. In both agro-ecological zones, land change was rapid during the first interval and slowed during the second. We suggest that the fast change in land during the first interval may be attributed to the villagization policy in the 1970s that sought to drive the population towards rural settlements.
Artisanal small-scale mining and mercury pollution in Ghana: a critical examination of a messy minerals and gold mining ...Published: 17 August 2013 by Springer Nature in Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences
The use of mercury in artisanal small-scale gold mining has generated intense debate because of its deleterious effects on human health. A narrative policy analysis of artisanal gold mining debates in Ghana’s parliament was carried out in this study. The results show that civil society and policy makers use various rhetorical idioms particularly rhetoric of loss, entitlement, endangerment, unreason, and calamity to support claims-making in the artisanal mining debates. This reveals the co-mingling of politics and science in environmental policymaking. Although the science of mercury has remained almost the same over time in the debates, the understanding of how knowledge is produced has certainly changed over time. The political and economic history of gold mining indicates that colonial and post-independence policies partly account for the persistence and limited integration of artisanal gold mining in the national economy and, by extension, the persistence of mercury pollution in mining communities. Consistently, opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) argued in favor of artisanal miners, unlike their counterparts on the other side of the political divide (ruling government) who virtually sought to blame the victims (artisanal gold miners). However, whenever political change of power occurred, these very same MPs changed their rhetoric from pro-artisanal mining to anti-artisanal mining. Furthermore, anti-artisanal gold mining remarks from government lulls in election years.
Artisanal gold mining (ASM) is environmentally damaging and often has deleterious health effects for miners and surrounding communities. The absence of effective legal frameworks and secure rights for miners and communities in Ghana exacerbates this problem. From May 2009 to July 2012, we conducted interviews and focus group discussions with artisanal miners, government officials, policymakers, traditional leaders, and large-scale miners in order to examine the conflicts over access and land-use. The results show that a number of factors pose challenges to the willingness of artisanal to mine legally: the legal framework is incoherent; the human, financial, and material resources to enforce the laws (including decentralized structures) are almost non-existent; and, the political will to execute the laws (including control and sanctions on infractions) is limited. Although artisanal mining is reserved for indigenes, the Chinese, Indians, and Serbs have entered and consolidated their niches in the ASM sector. The metamorphosis of the Chinese and other foreigners from large-scale mining investors into artisanal miners is attributable to collusion with self-seeking citizens to circumvent the Minerals and Mining Act. Interestingly, there is ambivalence, which is expressed in citizen's complaints of environmental pollution against the Chinese. Also, three gaps in the legal framework account for the proliferation of foreigners in artisanal gold mining in Ghana: definition of who a mining investor is; lack of provision for mining rights for communities; and ambiguity of some provisions in the framework. The principal reason for policy failure in the ASM sector is that the current intervention mechanisms are predominantly of a technical order and do not take into account the complex socio-political realities in gold mining areas.
Health Risks to Children and Adults Residing in Riverine Environments where Surficial Sediments Contain Metals Generated...Published: 31 March 2013 by The Korean Society of Toxicology in Toxicological Research
The purpose of this study was to investigate the current status of metal pollution in the sediment from rivers, lakes, and streams in active gold mining districts in Ghana. Two hundred and fifty surface sediment samples from 99 locations were collected and analyzed for concentrations of As, Hg, Cr, Co, Cu, Fe, Zn, Pb, Cd, Ni, and Mn using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS). Metal concentrations were then used to assess the human health risks to resident children and adults in central tendency exposure (CTE) and reasonable maximum exposure (RME) scenarios. The concentrations of Pb, Cd, and As were almost twice the threshold values established by the Hong Kong Interim Sediment Quality Guidelines (ISQG). Hg, Cu, and Cr concentrations in sediment were 14, 20, and 26 times higher than the Canadian Freshwater Sediment Guidelines for these elements. Also, the concentrations of Pb, Cu, Cr, and Hg were 3, 11, 12, and 16 times more than the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) sediment guideline values. The results of the human health risk assessment indicate that for ingestion of sediment under the central tendency exposure (CTE) scenario, the cancer risks for child and adult residents from exposure to As were 4.18 × 10(-6) and 1.84 × 10(-7), respectively. This suggests that up to 4 children out of one million equally exposed children would contract cancer if exposed continuously to As over 70 years (the assumed lifetime). The hazard index for child residents following exposure to Cr(VI) in the RME scenario was 4.2. This is greater than the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) threshold of 1, indicating that adverse health effects to children from exposure to Cr(VI) are possible. This study demonstrates the urgent need to control industrial emissions and the severe heavy metal pollution in gold mining environments.