Chemical Emissions via Smoke Produced Through Burning of Scrap Tires, Firewood and Liquefied Petroleum Gas as Fuel Sources for Singeing Meat in Ghana
This pilot study aims at determining the presence and levels of toxic chemicals emitted through smoke produced via burning of scrap tires, firewood, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) used as fuels for singeing meat intended for humans. Burning of these fuels reportedly emits car-bon monoxide (CO), benzene, and other air pollutants via the smoke. CO decreases the carrying capacity of blood to transport oxygen to the organs, and can ultimately lead to death. Benzene is associated with irritation of the skin, eyes, and airways; vomiting, dizziness, etc.; and it is a known human carcinogen. Concentrations of these pollutants were quantified using a chip measurement system (CMS) from Draeger Safety, Inc. Analysis was conducted at six different locations in four major cities in Ghana, where animal carcasses are processed for human consump-tion. Four locations (slaughterhouses) use tire-derived fuel, the fifth (mechanized abattoir) uses LPG, while the sixth uses firewood (with a small piece of tire to start the fire) for meat singeing. Overall, the average CO levels emitted via tire-derived smoke (128.67±18.23 ppm; p<0.0001) and firewood smoke (130.86±21.71 ppm; p<0.0001) were significantly higher compared to LPG-based smoke (control). No significant differ-ence was detected between the level of CO in tire-derived smoke versus that of firewood (p<0.8915). Also, the average benzene levels emitted via scrap tire-derived smoke (3.50±0.95 ppm; p<0.2163) and firewood (1.30±1.14 ppm; p<0.8712) were higher than that of LPG-based smoke (control) but not statistically significant. Also, there was no significant difference between level of benzene in tire-derived smoke versus that of firewood (p<0.1053). While this is a pilot study, results suggest that slaughterhouse operators and residents in close proximity to these fa-cilities may be at high risk of experiencing the health effects of CO and benzene. Further studies are needed to confirm these results and work with stakeholders to create data-driven, safe, economically viable, and culturally appropriate alternatives for processing meat in Ghana and other developing countries.