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Determination of trace elements and their concentrations in clay balls: problem of geophagia practice in Ghana

Arhin, Emmanuel, Zango, Musah S.
Environmental geochemistry and health 2017 v.39 no.1 pp. 1-14
X-radiation, arsenic, chromium, clay, cobalt, fluorescence, geophagia, human health, markets, people, zirconium, Ghana
Ten samples of 100 g weight were subsampled from 1400 g of the clay balls from which the contained trace element levels were determined by X-ray fluorescence technique. The results of trace elements in the clay balls were calibrated using certified reference materials “MAJMON” and “BH-1.” The results showed elevated concentrations but with different concentration levels in the regions, particularly with arsenic, chromium, cobalt, Cs, Zr and La. These trace elements contained in the clay balls are known to be hazardous to human health. Thence the relatively high concentrations of these listed trace elements in clay balls in the three regions, namely Ashanti, Upper East and Volta, which are widely sold in markets in Ghana, could present negative health impact on consumers if consumed at 70 g per day or more and on regular basis. On the basis of these, the study concludes an investigation to establish breakeven range for trace element concentrations in the clay balls as it has been able to demonstrate the uneven and elevated values in them. The standardized safe ranges of trace elements will make the practice safer for the people that ingest clay balls in Ghana.