Agbogbloshie is infamous due to its high heavy metals pollution levels — from more than a decade of informal e-waste recycling.
This is how the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) characterized Agbogbloshie in 2016:
“Agbogbloshie is a toxic threat. The burning of e-waste releases toxic fumes that spread throughout the community, threatening city dwellers. The toxic chemical fumes released get into the food market and get inside the soil throughout the area when it rains. Indeed, high levels of toxins have been discovered in soil and food samples, as these chemicals stay in the food chain.”1
Agbogbloshie is a toxic threat. The burning of e-waste releases toxic fumes that spread throughout the community, threatening city dwellers. The toxic chemical fumes released get into the food market and get inside the soil throughout the area when it rains. Indeed, high levels of toxins have been discovered in soil and food samples, as these chemicals stay in the food chain.
Why do Accra residents eat low-quality food from Agbogbloshie?
I won’t drag this, but read the 4 facts about Agbogbloshie before you jump below to look at the source of your food.
Four (4) Facts About Agbogbloshie, Ghana
Pure Earth and Green Cross Switzerland in 2013 rated Agbogbloshie among the top ten most polluted environments in the world. The list, not ranked, included places such as Chernobyl, Dzerzhinsk, Kabwe, The Citarum River, and Norilsk.2
A study (2019)3 by the Basel Action Network and the International Pollutants Elimination Network found high levels of toxins such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and chlorinated dioxins in free-range chicken eggs at Agbogbloshie, fearing this may be contaminating the food chain.
Jack Caranavos and other researchers in 2013 found lead levels as high as 18,125 parts per million (ppm) in a soil sample collected from around Agbogbloshie.4 US EPA’s recommended safe levels for lead in bare soil in a non-play area such as Agbogbloshie is 1,200 ppm.5
The FAO in 2016 was so concerned about high levels of toxins that were found in the soil and food samples from around the area that it declared Agbogbloshie “a toxic threat.”6
Again, why do Accra residents eat food from Agbogbloshie?
Nicknamed after Ghana's current president, the 8 years old 'Akufo-Addo' is engaged in hazardous child labour on the margins of Accra, Ghana's capital city. See how he navigates the fringes of Agbogbloshie, an area once listed alongside Chernobyl and Dzershinsk.
Fish processors in Ghana trade-off between their livelihoods and exposure to cancer-causing toxicants such as PAHs. Climate-related shocks, overfishing, and other human activities are also shaping the mobility of migrant fishers.
Hi, Muntaka Chasant here. I'm, among many other things, an entrepreneur and a multiple international awards winning documentary photographer. I'm here on the front lines of urban struggle — only with my wits and cameras — capturing key moments, collecting untold stories, and helping to forge new paths.