The aim of the study was to assess the reported health problems associated with the burning of biomass fuel for fish smoking. A cross-sectional study was conducted from December 2016 to May 2017 among fish smokers at Abuesi in the Western Region of Ghana. A total of 434 fish smokers were selected to assess their level of knowledge of health effects associated with fish smoking as well as disease symptoms they have encountered as a result of smoking fish. Additionally, 60 smoke houses were monitored for particulate matter (PM2.5) and volatile organic compound concentrations. Measurements were taken at indoor, outdoor and control locations. The highest concentration of (PM2.5) was recorded in the indoor environment. The mean concentration of (PM2.5) between the indoor and control environment was significantly different unlike between the outdoor and control environments. The concentration of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) systematically varied across three locations. The most reported disease symptoms were eye infection and cough. There was a strong positive association between the number of years spent smoking fish and frequency of eye problems reported by the fish smokers. Educational attainment was a significant predictor of the level of knowledge of fish smokers on the health effects associated with fish smoking. There is therefore the need for further studies to explore other energy sources which may have lesser negative effect on human health.

Clean air is considered to be a basic necessity for human health and well-being. Globally, many people obtain their daily domestic energy from the use of solid fuels such as wood, coal and crop residue (Fullerton, Bruce & Gordon, 2008). The extensive use of solid fuels for domestic cooking activities is probably the main source of indoor air pollution worldwide (Kim, Jahan & Kabir, 2011).When biomass fuel is incompletely burnt harmful particles are released such as particulate matter, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide which can cause harm to human health (Bruce, Perez-Padilla & Albalak, 2000; Naeher et al., 2007). These pollutants are tiny in size and can easily cross to the alveolar–capillary barrier and enter into deeper parts of the lungs (Tesfaigzi et al., 2002).

Women and young children are mostly exposed to these high levels of indoor air pollutants because they spend most of the time indoors especially kitchen (Von et al., 2002). Indoor air pollution associated with combustion of solid fuels is a major contributor to respiratory diseases. Indoor air pollution cause between 1.6 and 2 million deaths each year in developing countries (Smith, 2000). Murray and Lopez (1996) indicated that the burning of wood, dried animal compost and other biomass fuel such as twigs and shrubs is the chief cause of acute respiratory infections such as pneumonia which leads to the death of children under 5 years in most developing countries.

Poverty- related risk factors, including water quality, hygiene and household air pollution from the use of solid fuels, account for a large proportion of under-five deaths (Smith, Mehta, & Maeusezahl-Feuz, 2004).

Among children lower than five years of age, 3 - 5 million deaths have been attributed to acute respiratory infections yearly (Standsfield & Shepard, 1993).

Background to the Study
Almost 3 billion people globally obtain their daily domestic energy needs from the use of biomass fuel such as solid fuels (Rehfuess & Mehta, 2006). The outcome of indoor air pollution resulting from the extensive use of biomass fuel reduces the quality of life of many people in developing countries (United Nations Development Programme &World Energy Commission, 2000).

The case is not different from Ghana since most of the country’s energy consumption is derived from combustion of biomass in the form of firewood and charcoal accounting for nearly 60% of both domestic and commercial energy consumption (Odoi-Agyarko, 2009). Many people who live in urban areas frequently consume the majority of charcoal produced in the country while most people in rural areas often use firewood which are all kinds of biomass fuel (International Energy Agency, 2002). The frequent use of solid fuels such as logs, charcoal, animal dung, crop waste and coal for cooking and household warming activities mostly leads to indoor air pollution which is a serious environmental health concern in several nations especially developing ones (Smith, Samet, Romieu & Bruce, 2000). Carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, trace metals, fluorine, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds such as benzene and formaldehyde are all kinds of chemicals that are emitted into the atmosphere when biomass fuel is partially burnt. (Ge et al., 2004). The size of these air pollutants are very tiny in nature and therefore could be easily inhaled into the deepest part of the body such as heart and lung which could be very detrimental to human health (Hoet, Brüske- Hohlfeld, & Salata, 2004).

Statement of the Problem
Biomass fuel produces different chemical compounds of which most are easily inhaled due their size. These chemicals emitted into the atmosphere through the incomplete burning of biomass fuel leads to the emission of air pollutants like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, chlorinated dioxins, arsenic, lead, fluorine and vanadium which are all noxious to human health (Flintwood– Brace, 2016). Exposure to indoor air pollution resulting from the incomplete burning of biomass fuels has been linked to many diseases in several studies (Fullerton et al., 2008).

Pneumonia which cause most deaths in young children particularly those under five is associated with indoor air pollution resulting from the incomplete combustion of solid fuel (Bryce, Boschi-Pinto, Shibuya & WHO, 2005; Dherani et al, 2008). Other diseases that has been linked to smoke from biomass fuel includes acute and chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma. However, little studies has been conducted on the effect of smoke generated in the fish smoking environment where mostly inappropriate stoves are used on human health.

In Abuesi, a major fishing community in the Western Region of Ghana, for instance, fish smoking is the commonest fish preservation method used and most women who are fish smokers use outdated smoking stoves with the use of biomass fuel such as wood as the main source of energy. These women mostly work carrying their young children at their backs and spend several hours smoking. Not enough studies have been conducted the health hazards related to air pollution from the burning of biomass fuel for the smoking of fish with the use of outdated smoking stoves and the outcome of this study will help provide information on levels of harmful chemicals emitted into the environment, those mostly affected by these chemicals and the associated human health risk.

Although emerging evidence, across the world, suggests that the use of unprocessed solid fuel for cooking is related to a number of blinding, and painful, eye conditions (Fullerton et al., 2008; West et al., 2013), there has been little research in developing countries such as Ghana to ascertain this link. Besides, there is paucity of research on this environmental risk factor for eye diseases in the context of fish smoking. This study seeks to fill this gap in the literature.

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Item Type: Ghanaian Topic  |  Size: 119 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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