Burning of Scrap Tires, Firewood and Liquefied Petroleum Gas as Fuel Sources for Singeing Meat in Ghana: Chemical Emissions via Smoke and Health Concerns

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Many slaughterhouse operators in Ghana burn scrap tires (as opposed to firewood and liquefied petroleum gas [LPG]) as fuel to singe slaughtered animals intended for human consumption. This practice releases high amounts of chemicals including carbon monoxide (CO), benzene, and other toxicants into the air via smoke. Exposure to these chemicals has been associated with a plethora of health issues such as respiratory impairment; irritation of skin, eyes, and air ways; and cancer. This pilot study aims at determining the presence and levels of CO and benzene emitted near six different meat singeing locations in four major cities in Ghana using a chip measurement system (CMS). The CMS (with chemical reagents in the chip portion of the system), a portable device, quantifies the concentrations of CO and benzene in real time. Results showed that the average CO levels emitted via tire-derived smoke (128.67±18.23 ppm; p< 0.0001) and firewood-based smoke (130.86±21.71 ppm; p<0.0001) were significantly higher compared to LPG-based smoke (control). 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); however, the difference was not statistically significant. While this is a pilot study, results suggest that slaughterhouse operators and residents living in close proximity to these facilities may be at high risk of experiencing the health effects of CO, benzene and other pollutants. A more comprehensive study is warranted to sufficiently characterize the link between this tire-based meat singeing practice and adverse health outcomes.


American Public Health Association Annual Meeting (APHA)


Atlanta, GA