Environmental and Health impact of Agrochemicals usage in Tomato (Vegetable) Production in the Offinso-North District

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The study was undertaken to investigate the possible impacts that agrochemicals through their usage can have on the environment, farmers and consumers. Data were gathered through questionnaires administered to 210 farmers in three communities (Akomadan, Nkenkaasu, Afrancho) where vegetable cultivation especially tomato is predominant and the use of different classes of agrochemicals is high. Ten agricultural extension agents and ten agrochemical dealers were also interviewed. Farmers in the area use banned agrochemicals such as Heptachlor, DDT, Dieldrin and Lindane. Symptoms suggestive of agrochemical exposure such as dizziness, drowsiness, headaches and skin irritations were recorded among farmers who use agrochemicals in the three communities. The data gathered shows some levels of agrochemicals that the farmers and environment are exposed to. There is a strong indication from the data gathered of a probable bioaccumulation of agrochemicals in the environment and on tomato as laboratory analysis of tomato fruits revealed eleven (11) organophosphates and fourteen (14) organochlorines and synthetic pyrethroids residues in the samples collected from the three study communities. The residues detected included DDT and its derivative DDD which is highly toxic and environmentally persistent. Most of the detected residues on the tomato samples from the area were below the FAO/WHO codex alimentarius set Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) except Heptachlor which exceeded its MRL. Most detected residues did not pose long term health risk to consumers when estimated. However, chlorfenvinphos, heptachlor (banned) and dieldrin posed long term health risks to consumers when the health risk associated with them was estimated. Agrochemical dealers in the study area who are the major suppliers of agrochemicals to the local farmers sell agrochemicals in repackaged containers exposing themselves, farmers and also compromising the chemical potency of the agrochemicals.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Materials Engineering of the College of Engineering, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Science, in Environmental Resources Management