A study conducted by the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) shows that artisans at the Suame Magazine in Kumasi – reputed to be Africa’s largest metal fabrication enclave, are predisposed to serious health hazards.
Many of them have been found to have high concentration of heavy metals including lead, iron and copper in their internal organs.
This is said to have come about because of their exposure to heavy metals contained in used engine oil.
The Suame Magazine is home to more than 800,000 artisans, and provides engineering and metal fabrication services to motorists from all over the West African sub-Region.
Professor Mark Adom-Asamoah, Provost of the University’s College of Engineering told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) that the study was carried out by a team of research scientists from the College and the Duke University, United States (US).
It was a collaborative research with cross disciplinary input from engineering, chemistry, community health, and sociology departments.
The goal was to assess the health risk posed to the artisans by the heavy metal concentrations at the magazine and the immediate environment and how to promote the safety and health of the people.
He said human biological samples of the artisans were taken and analyzed for heavy metal concentration.
They additionally had their blood pressure measured and majority of them were found to have developed high blood pressure.
Prof Adom-Asamoah said they were yet to determine the association of that health condition with the heavy metal contamination.
He described as troubling the situation where some of the artisans recklessly ate with engine oil soiled-hands and said that could cause permanent damage to the liver and kidney.
He indicated that the College through its Technology Consultancy Centre (TCC), had over the years been assisting to educate and create awareness among the artisans about the potential health risks involved in their job and the need to stick to safety practices.
He said the expectation was the latest research findings would encourage everybody to give priority to their health and safety at the workplace