A Study of the Effects of Chemicals Used to Control Diseases and Pests of Cocoa on the Users: A Case Study of Atwima Nwabiagya District

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In Ghana, periods of higher producer prices of cocoa beans have witnessed a corresponding increase in production. This has led to a significant increase in the use of various chemicals by our farmers in their attempts to boost production. There are however very scanty information on the toxicity of these chemicals on the health of the non – target organisms. This study was undertaken to access the effects of these chemicals on the health of the users within the Atwima Nwabiagya district in the Ashanti region of Ghana. The study consisted of a questionnaire survey and laboratory experiment using albino rats. Questionnaire was administered by the interviewer to 100 respondents who were selected from five different centers within the district, thus ensuring a wide representation. The laboratory experiment consisted of 4 groups (6 rats per group). Three of the groups were exposed for 8 weeks to different concentrations of chemicals commonly used by farmers whilst the other group was set up as control. Rats were sacrificed at the end of the exposure period and histopathology of targeted organs carried out. Results from the questionnaire survey indicated that the chemicals could cause dermal diseases such as skin rashes and irritations to the users. Laboratory experiment also indicated that the chemicals could be toxic to the exposed rats if the concentrations of the chemicals are high enough. Rats exposed to high concentrations of both chemicals used for the experiment (bifenthrin and thiamethoxam) were significantly of smaller body weights (p< 0.05) compared with the control rats. The lungs of the rats exposed to high concentration of thiamethoxam were the slightly affected organs, but no signs of toxicity were observed on the other organs (hearts, liver, kidneys) of rats exposed to the other concentrations including bifenthrin. Furs of rats were also affected.
A thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in Environmental Science, 2011