The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service has confirmed the authorities are aware of babies contracting cancer as result of being fed with metal-infested breast milk by mothers who inhale smoke from the Agbogloshie e-waste dumping site.

The development, according to Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare, is leading to childhood cancer and other health concerns.

He has blamed the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and others for a lack of action.

Dr. Nsia Asare

Dr. Asare was responding to recent research findings by Eunice Matilda Mends, Master of Public Health, on “Heavy Metal Contamination in Breast Milk and Cow Milk at Agbogbloshie” on the Joy FM Super Morning Show Friday.

Agbogbloshie in Accra has become a dumping site for locally generated automobile and electronic scrap collected from across Accra. It is alleged that millions of tons of e-waste also from industrialised nations are processed each year at the site.

The effects of smoke from processing this e-waste on breastfeeding babies, according to the research, has damaged central nervous systems, intellectual and cognitive deficiencies, characterized by a reduction in Intelligence Quotient (IQ), hyperactivity, cancers, lung disease and impaired cognitive functions.

Eunice Matilda Mends

Eunice Matilda Mends and her team came to this conclusion after breast milk samples from this community tested positive for lead, arsenic, mercury and nickel in quantities above limits accepted by the World Health organizations.

Dr. Nsia Asare, who is the Director of the Ghana Health Service, says if action is not taken immediately “the situation will explode in our faces.”

While promising to partner the researcher to utilize her findings, he urged the enforcement of existing legislation from the Accra Metropolitan Assembly and the Environment Protection Agency. 

Dr. Asare also argued that if government regularizes the trade of the e-waste in a manner that is healthy it can become a source of income for it.