by Faridah Hussein Were Lecturer, Department of Chemistry, University of Nairobi
Africa is facing a serious lead poisoning problem. In Senegal, for example, researchers linked the deaths of children from processing lead waste to supply a lead battery recycling plant in a poor suburb of Dakar.
In Kenya, the legacy of a shutdown lead-recycling plant is causing major health problems for people living in the neighbourhood. And in Nigeria an investigation by journalists showed how lead battery recycling facilities were poisoning workers and the people living in the area.
The problem is growing along with the market for lead batteries. This is due to lack of regulation and investment in environmentally sound battery recycling plants. Most facilities in Africa are small. They weren’t built with adequate pollution controls to prevent disasters and ongoing contamination.
The production of lead batteries is growing rapidly in Africa as the market for lead batteries expands. Global lead output continues to grow, with about 85% production going to make batteries.
We conducted a study around lead battery recycling plants in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania and Tunisia. Our results showed significant lead contamination around 15 licensed battery recycling plants. This shows that informal sector recycling is not the only source of lead pollution.
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In the run-up to the Basel Convention's 14th Conference of the Parties (COP14), IPEN worked with Basel Action Network (BAN) to complete a "Quick Views" document that addresses some issues that will be discussed at tthe COP14. These include marine litter and microplastics; financial resources; compliance; e-waste guidelines; POPs waste; technical guidelines on incineration, engineered landfill, hazardous waste physico-chemical treatment and biological treatment; and more.
Mombasa, Kenya (CNN)On a hot afternoon at a sprawling settlement on the outskirts of Mombasa, Phyllis Omido makes her rounds.
For close to a decade, Omido has been visiting the Owino Uhuru village, monitoring the various illnesses, deaths, and miscarriages that have occurred since a nearby smelter contaminated the village's air and water with lead.
There is the kind of lead poisoning that creeps into water supplies, builds up in children’s blood streams, and, if sustained, will impair their brains. And then there is the kind, much rarer, that makes fully grown adults drop dead.
Facilities in Douala are significant sources of lead pollution
Yaoundé, 18 January 2018 – An international study found extensive lead contamination around lead battery recycling plants in Cameroon and six additional African countries. The contamination levels in soil ranged up to 14% lead with average concentrations of 2% lead.