Estimation of Total Arsenic in Maize, Fish and Human Urine from Some Parts of Amansie West District in the Ashanti Region of Ghana

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Amansie West District is a gold mining area in the Ashanti Region of Ghana and the method of mining used is surface mining. From the operation of mining activities (galamsey) arsenic is released into the atmosphere and water bodies in the environment. Consequently, the arsenic contaminates the water, soil, and foodstuffs like maize and fish leading to adverse effect on vegetation, animals and humans living in the area. Levels of total arsenic concentration of maize, fish and human urine samples from the district were determined using Varian AA240FS (Fast Sequential AAS) Spectrophotometer and also some physicochemical properties of the samples were determined. The work was conducted between October 2011 and April 2012. The mean total arsenic concentrations in maize ranged from 0.015 to 0.045 mg/kg dry weight. The fish from upstream had levels of arsenic ranging from 1.90 to 3.25 mg/kg dry weight. Mean total arsenic levels in fish from downstream samples ranged from 1.95 to 4.80 mg/kg and the mean total arsenic levels in fish samples from streams and ponds ranged from 1.70 to 3.95 mg/kg. The mean total arsenic in human urine samples ranged from 0.003 to 0.014 mg/l. The pHs of maize, fish from upstream, fish from downstream and fish from streams and ponds ranged from 5.41 to 6.90, 5.34 to 6.87, 5.02 to 6.91 and 5.03 to 7.15respectively. The pH of the urine samples ranged from 5.54 to 8.20. Moisture content of fish from upstream, downstream and streams and ponds ranged from 49.20 to 66.75 %, 56.23 to 65.72 % and 49.43 to 65.98 % respectively Conductivity of the maize varied from 1508 to3371 μS/cm The conductivity of the urine samples ranged from 11691 to 37425 μS/cm. The ash content of maize varied from 15.87 to 20.73 % and for the fish from upstream, downstream and stream and ponds, their ash content ranged from 9.98 to 16.27 %, 9.79 to 15.98 % and 10.68 to 15.92%. The arsenic levels in fish and maize are within the acceptable limits of consumption according to the WHO limit for foodstuffs of 10 mg/kg.  
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Chemistry, College of Science, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Master of Philosophy in Environmental Chemistry, June-2013