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Prevalence of Persistent Organic Pollutants in Blantyre - Malawi

1Department of Civil and Water Engineering, National University of Science and Technology, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

2Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Zimbabwe Open University, Harare, Zimbabwe

American Journal of Environmental Protection. 2016, Vol. 4 No. 3, 61-66
DOI: 10.12691/env-4-3-1
Copyright © 2016 Science and Education Publishing

Cite this paper:
Makaya Eugine, Tanyanyiwa Vincent. Prevalence of Persistent Organic Pollutants in Blantyre - Malawi. American Journal of Environmental Protection. 2016; 4(3):61-66. doi: 10.12691/env-4-3-1.

Correspondence to: Makaya  Eugine, Department of Civil and Water Engineering, National University of Science and Technology, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Email:


The industrial and agricultural revolutions have led to the development of a variety of chemicals ranging from insecticides, pesticides, fungicides and bactericides. However the demand for these chemicals led the manufacturers to manufacture the chemicals without considering the sustainability of using such chemicals. During the last half of the 20th century, the global environment has become contaminated with a number of persistent and fat-soluble chemical contaminants, commonly referred to as the Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). These compounds generally have low water solubility, do not degrade readily in the environment, bio-accumulate in food chains, and have been linked to adverse health effects in both humans and wildlife. In order to develop appropriate strategies and institutional responses, it is pertinent to assess the prevalence of the variety of organic pollutants and the people’s understanding and awareness of POPs that pose a threat to the biophysical aspect of the environment, if used or disposed of in unsupervised means. Thus, this study sought to assess the inventory of POPs, level of awareness and measures used in dealing with the chemicals in Blantyre, Malawi. The researchers used a qualitative research design. The research instruments used were a questionnaire, key-informant interviews and observations. The study focused on Ndirande peri-urban area comprising Mulanje, Thyolo, Zomba, Chiradzulu and Njuli. A random sample of sixty-four respondents was selected and a total of 64 questionnaires administered. The survey covered 5 sites that included markets, agro-dealers, hardware shops, estates and chemical companies. Descriptive statistics were obtained from key- informant interviews and observations. Findings revealed that despite the banning of POPs in Malawi as a signatory to the Stockholm Convention of 2001, the illegal usage and selling of banned POPs was rampant with hardware shops, agro-dealers and vendors. The survey also revealed low level of awareness and knowledge about POPs pesticides especially among the general public in Ndirande Peri-urban. There was presence of Chlordane as the most common pesticide used to control termites and was mainly sourced by the local farmers from the market vendors, hardware shops and Agro-dealers. The pesticide DDT was identified as resurfacing with its source into the country linked to Mozambican traders. The majority of the farmers cited DDT as the main pesticide used to control termites and protect crops such as maize after harvest. In addition the survey revealed the presence of a power utility with a number of obsolete transformers suspected to be contaminated with PCBs still waiting to be disposed for incineration at Blantyre West Sub-station. The researchers observed that this placed at high risk the workers at the power utility of PCBs due to lack of adequate protective wear. It was observed that children were mainly exposed through improperly disposed obsolete pesticides, insecticides and chemical containers. The study concluded that there is need for education of people to ensure their awareness of the dangers associated with the illegal pesticides usage. Integrated Pest Management was recommended as the best alternative approach in peri-urban agriculture.