Rotten eggs: e-waste from Europe poisons Ghana's food chain

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Toxins from old computers, fridges and other electronic goods are polluting chicken eggs in an area where 80,000 people live.

Some of the most hazardous chemicals on Earth are entering the food chain in Ghana from illegally disposed electronic waste coming from Europe.

According to a new report by two environmental groups tracking the disposal of e-waste, chicken eggs from the Agbogbloshie slum in Ghana’s capital, Accra – where residents break up waste to recover metals – contain dangerous levels of dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), among other harmful substances.

Researchers for the two groups, Ipen and the Basel Action Network, analysed eggs laid by the free-range chickens that forage in Agbogbloshie, home to an estimated 80,000 people who subsist primarily by retrieving and selling copper cable and other metals from e-waste.

The analysis revealed that an adult eating just a single egg in the Agbogbloshie scrap yard and slum would exceed the European Food Safety Authority limits on chlorinated dioxins 220 times over. Other toxic chemicals were present in similarly worrying concentrations, including PCBs and fire-retardant compounds. Dioxins, in particular, are highly damaging even in small concentrations.



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