Former Environment Minister Warns of Health Risks in Mining Regions, Advocates for Phytoremediation

Professor Boateng Frimpong, former Minister of Environment, Science, and Technology, has raised concerns regarding potential health hazards associated with the consumption of vegetables grown in mining areas. Speaking at the JoyNews National Dialogue on Illegal Mining held at the Labadi Beach Hotel in Accra, Prof Frimpong highlighted the need to adopt phytoremediation as a proactive measure and called on the Minister of Agriculture to explore its implementation.

Addressing the theme, ‘Exploring radical solutions to a national crisis,’ Prof Frimpong explained that phytoremediation involves utilizing green plants to remove poisons and toxic metals present in contaminated soil, thereby alleviating the adverse effects of pollutants. He emphasized the significance of planting specific crops known for their ability to absorb particular contaminants. “We need to plant certain things that will absorb or take out the poison in the body. So we know that if you plant sunflower, it will absorb magnesium and chromium. Cabbage and broccoli will take care of lead, zinc, and cadmium, so also water lettuce, which will absorb cadmium, mercury, chromium, and copper,” he stated.

Calling for the incorporation of the phytoremediation strategy, Prof Frimpong urged the Minister of Agriculture to adopt this approach in their efforts to combat illegal mining and preserve soil quality.

The former minister cautioned residents in illegal mining regions against cultivating and consuming vegetables from these areas, citing potential self-poisoning risks. He proposed a strategic implementation of the planting cycle in affected regions, believing that over time, it would lead to a gradual reduction in soil toxicity, contributing to sustained soil improvement.

“We think the Minister of Agriculture should look at these things, as we fight illegal mining to go into areas where we can gradually absorb…we have to plant these in cycles. Maybe 10, 20 cycles so that the level of poison will come down,” Prof Frimpong-Boateng advised.

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