Assessment of the levels of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in soils of artisanal shops in Suame magazine and their related health risks to artisans

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Suame Magazine is an indigenous industrial area in Ghana, well-known for its automobile maintenance/repairs and metal fabrication activities. Due to emissions from vehicular engines, furnaces and the indiscriminate manner in which waste, including the spent engine oils are disposed of in the area, it is anticipated that people who work in this community will have high levels of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The aim of this study was to determine the levels of PAHs in the 0 – 10 cm, 10 – 20 cm and 20 – 30 cm of the soil profile from shops of selected activities and based on the concentrations obtained, evaluate the health risks to the artisans. Physicochemical parameters such as soil texture, pH, organic matter content and moisture content were determined. Concentrations of dibenz(a,h)anthracene, benzo(b)fluoranthene as well as benzo(k)fluoranthene were found to be higher than the individual maximum permissible levels for the individual PAHs according to international regulations. The benzo(a)pyrene equivalence of 1.87, 0.394, 0.050 and 0.121 were obtained for maintenance, spraying, welding and metal fabrications activities respectively. The results obtained indicated that maintenance shops relatively, contributed between 61.096% and 95.243% of higher molecular weight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Contributions by other activities were in the order: spraying > metal fabrication > welding. Health risk assessments based on soil ingestion and dermal contact only, also indicated that vehicle maintenance shops pose the highest risk to artisans with an incremental lifetime cancer risk (ILCR) of 1.24E-05. Spraying, metal fabrication and welding have ILCR of 2.61E-06, 8.03E-07 and 3.34E-07 respectively.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Chemistry in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of a Master of Philosophy degree in Environmental Chemistry.
Suame Magazine, PAH, Artisan, Soil, Health risk