, Volume 19, Issue 8, pp 3192-3199
Date: 06 Mar 2012

Exposure to toxic waste containing high concentrations of hydrogen sulphide illegally dumped in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

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On August 2006, a cargo ship illegally dumped 500 t of toxic waste containing high concentrations of hydrogen sulphide in numerous sites across Abidjan. Thousands of people became ill. Seventeen deaths were associated with toxic waste exposure.

Materials and methods

This study reports on environmental and health problems associated with the incident. A cross-sectional transect study was conducted in five waste dumping site areas.


Of the households, 62.1% (n = 502) were exposed to the effects of the pollutants and 51.1% of the interviewed people (n = 2,368) in these households showed signs of poisoning. Most important symptoms were cough (37.1%), asthenia (33.1%), pruritus (29.9%) and nausea (29.1%).


The health effects showed different frequencies in the five waste impact sites. Among the poisoned persons, 21.1% (n = 532) presented symptoms on the survey day (i.e., 4 months after incident). Transect sampling allowed to determine a radius of vulnerability to exposure of up to 3 km from the point of toxic waste disposal.


The area of higher vulnerability is influenced by various environmental factors, such as size and severity of pollution site, duration of toxic waste pollution on the impact site and locally climatic conditions. The surveillance of effects on environment and human health is warranted to monitor the development.

Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues