Assessment of arsenic, cadmium and lead in snuff in the Ashanti region of Ghana

  • O. J. Owusu-Asante
  • P. Mensah
  • A. Duah-Gyamfi
  • J. Owusu
  • E. Minkah
  • H. Wumbeidow
  • S. Ibrahim
  • E. Ofori
  • D. E. Nyarko


Tobacco snuff usually comes from Nicotiana tabacum in the wet or the dry form. The leaves are finely ground either by pounding or crushing and sometimes may be contaminated with heavy metals such as Lead (Pb), Cadmium (Cd) and Arsenic (As) which can accumulate in the body following prolonged use resulting in adverse health conditions. The objectives of this study are to determine the presence of heavy metals (Pb, Cd and As) in different tobacco snuff from selected transport terminals in the Ashanti Region of Ghana and to compare the acceptable daily intake with permissible limits by the Food and Agricultural Organization/World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) recommendation. Three transport terminals (the Kumasi Metropolis, Ejisu and Offinso districts) in the Ashanti Region were randomly sampled for tobacco snuff. Snuff samples/brands from the different stations were subsequently sent to the laboratory for analysis. The wet acid digestion method was used to determine the concentration of Pb, Cd and As of each sample using the atomic absorption spectrophotometer. The study found 18 snuff samples common among the transport terminals within the Ashanti Region. The 18 snuff samples had significant levels of metals in the range: Lead (0.298- 0.533 μg/g), Cadmium (0.977- 1.947 μg/g) and Arsenic (0.071 - 1.011 μg/g). The acceptable daily intake of heavy metals from most of the samples was above the maximum permissible limit accepted by the Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization. The results of this study showed that snuff contains toxic heavy metals that may cause health problems. Therefore, urgent regulation of the product is needed alongside an educative campaign to create awareness about the health implications associated with snuff.


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 2227-5835