Many slaughter houses, “abattoirs”, in some developing countries (such as Ghana and Nigeria) are known to frequently use open fires, set with scraps of automobile tires, to singe the fur of slaughtered goats, sheep, cows, etc. intended for human consumption. According to a veterinarian who inspects the slaughtering process and ensures the carcasses are “free” from diseases, this has been a common practice for well over 50 yr. This is a huge potential health risk because automobile tires are made of various hazardous chemicals and materials that, when released into the environment under ambient conditions (e.g., open fire burning), can contaminate the meat and the environment. A report obtained via the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency delineates that chemicals emitted through open tire burning include carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter – such as volatile organic compounds (e.g., benzene), dioxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs, e.g., benzo[a]pyrene), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and heavy/toxic metals/metalloids (e.g., arsenic, mercury, cadmium, chromium, etc.). Human exposures to these chemicals occur through ingestion (e.g., meat and meat products smoked with scrap rubber tires) and inhalation (indoor and outdoor air polluted with the tire-fire smoke). Thus, the toxicological and public health impact of this practice on the slaughterhouse operators, consuming public, individuals living in close proximity to the slaughterhouses, and the entire ecosystem cannot be overemphasized. The main objectives are to discuss the: 1) chemicals generally present in rubber tires, 2) pollutants emitted via scrap rubber tire burning, 3) types and levels of contaminants in the tire-smoked meat, and 4) potential toxicological and public health implications associated with using scrap rubber tires for smoking meat and other foodstuffs. We also highlight our current research activities in Ghana, West Africa, related to this practice, as well as some preliminary findings. Finally, it is anticipated that this presentation will heighten awareness of this practice as a potential health risk particularly in developing countries, and stimulate further scientific investigations into this food and environment-related issue.
- Scrap rubber tires,
- Smoking meat,
- Developing countries
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/evans_afriyie-gyawu/40/