Assessment of concentration of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in vegetables from farms in Accra, Ghana


Ingestion of leafy vegetables is an important dietary component of most Africans due to its health benefits. High levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the leafy vegetables may pose a significant health hazard to the consumers. Rose/Hibiscus, Chinese cabbage, lettuce, and garden egg leaves from farms along the Nima Creek, Accra, were selected. At each sampling site, the vegetable was uprooted and cut into leaves, stem, and root and analyzed differently. The GC-MS method was employed in the identification and quantification of 16 PAHs in the samples. The analysis was done at CSIR – Water Research Institute Organic Laboratory. The results obtained show concentrations of acenapththylene, acenapthene, benzo[a]anthracene, benzo[b]fluoranthene, and benzo[a]pyrene (except chrysene and pyrene which were found in garden egg leaves and Chinese cabbage respectively), while naphthalene was detected in all the vegetables. The mean concentration of phenanthrene in leaves, stem, and roots of Chinese cabbage vegetable varies according to the following order: roots (0.744 ± 0.16 μg/kg) ≥ leaves (0.598 ± 1.21 μg/kg) ≥ stem (0.327 ± 1.01 μg/kg). From the results of the isomeric ratios, the source of the PAHs in the leafy vegetables are from mixed sources, i.e., either pyrogenic and petrogenic origins. This calls for the formulation of stringent policies on the importation of over-age vehicles into the countries as well as on the indiscriminate burning of materials containing PAHs.

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The authors of this research appreciate the immense support from the Director of Water Research Institute, Dr. J. A. Ampofo, and Mr. Sampon Siaw Krodua of the cartography unit of the Water Research Institute.


Funds for this study were provided by the Government of Ghana (Grant No. CSIR/WRI/16/002)

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Correspondence to Saada Mohammed.

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Mohammed, S., Obiri, S., Ansa-Asare, O.D. et al. Assessment of concentration of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in vegetables from farms in Accra, Ghana. Environ Monit Assess 191, 417 (2019).

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  • GC-MS
  • PAHs
  • Leafy vegetables
  • Nima Creek
  • Ghana