Dr. Jack Caravanos, professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, and colleagues published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
In low- and middle-income countries, little is known about the extent of contaminated land and possible socio-demographic correlations. The authors reviewed the associations between socio demographic factors (population, population density, unemployment, education, and literacy) and contaminated sites in Ghana. The researchers uses aggregated district level 2010 census data from Ghana Statistical Service and contaminated site location data from Pure Earth’s Toxic Sites Identification Program. The site locations were spatially evaluated for mercury, lead and other pollutants, including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls. The researchers found a low to medium positive correlation between contaminated sites and higher population density, higher unemployment, greater education, and higher literacy rate.
These results support previous studies and suggest that several socio demographic factors may be reasonably accurate predictors of contaminated site locations. More research and targeted data collection is needed to better understand these associations with the ultimate goal of developing a predictive model.
It is likely that population and industrial clustering in urban areas absent of adequate zoning regulations is partially responsible for the findings. The results suggest that certain socio-demographic factors can be reasonably accurate predictors of contaminated site locations and perhaps used to develop predictive models of other contaminated sites.