Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 19, Issue 8, pp 3192–3199 | Cite as

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

  • Kouassi Dongo
  • Issiaka Tiembré
  • Blaise Atioumonou Koné
  • Christian Zurbrügg
  • Peter Odermatt
  • Marcel Tanner
  • Jakob Zinsstag
  • Guéladio Cissé
Research Article



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.


Abidjan Toxic waste Sampling by transects Hydrogen sulphide Exposure 



We are grateful for the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) country office in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, the Côte d’Ivoire Government Committee of Toxic Waste and the Ministry of Health in Côte d’Ivoire. Furthermore, we would like to thank the Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques in Côte d’Ivoire (CSRS) and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) and the programme NCCR North–South for the financial and technical support, and SODEXAM for providing meteorological data.

Supplementary material

11356_2012_823_MOESM1_ESM.doc (123 kb)
ESM 1(DOC 123 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kouassi Dongo
    • 1
    • 2
    • 7
  • Issiaka Tiembré
    • 3
  • Blaise Atioumonou Koné
    • 1
    • 3
  • Christian Zurbrügg
    • 4
  • Peter Odermatt
    • 5
    • 6
  • Marcel Tanner
    • 5
    • 6
  • Jakob Zinsstag
    • 5
    • 6
  • Guéladio Cissé
    • 1
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques, (CSRS)AbidjanCôte d’Ivoire
  2. 2.Laboratoire des Sciences et Technique de l’Eau et de l’Environnement (LSTEE)Université de CocodyAbidjanCôte d’Ivoire
  3. 3.Institut National d’Hygiène PubliqueAbidjanCôte d’Ivoire
  4. 4.Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and TechnologyDübendorfSwitzerland
  5. 5.Department of Epidemiology and Public HealthSwiss Tropical and Public Health instituteBaselSwitzerland
  6. 6.University of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  7. 7.LSTEE, UFR STRMUniversité de CocodyAbidjan 22Côte d’Ivoire

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