A study was conducted to determine the arsenic, pH, electrical conductivity and total dissolved solid (TDS) levels for streams and soil around, in Buruli Ulcer endemic and non endemic communities in the Amansie West District of the Ashanti Region of Ghana over a period of 12 months. Results from analysis of arsenic and other related physicochemical parameters revealed that, mean arsenic concentration for the streams in the entire sampling community was (0.8058 mg L-1). Though this figure exceeded the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended guideline for drinking water, it was within the Ghana Environmental Protection Agency (GEPA) permissible guideline. However, mean arsenic concentration for the entire sampling communities were higher for soil (1.464 mg kg-1) compared to that of its stream (0.8058 mg L-1). Electrical conductivity when monitored over the period also revealed a mean value of 139.4 μS cm-1. Mean Total Dissolved Solids recorded for the stream during the study stood at 69.6 mg L-1 and was much lower than both WHO and GEPA. When the levels of arsenic during the study were analysed based on endemicity, it was revealed that arsenic concentration for streams in BU endemic communities were higher (0.8720 mg L-1; ±0.4235) compared to their non-endemic counterparts (0.739 mg L-1; ±0.4188). Mean levels of arsenic in the soil when stratified based on endemicity revealed that, endemic levels (1.820 mg kg-1) were not only higher than that of the non-endemic (1.108 mg kg-1) but also statistically significant (p = 0.0452). Results from this work revealed that streams and soils in endemic communities within the Amansie west district were generally high for arsenic contamination compared to their non-endemic counterpart. It is an undeniable fact that long-term exposures to arsenic via drinking water are known to cause a number of arsenic related diseases including cancer of the skin among many others. In the absence of clear cut pathogenesis to M. ulcerans infections, these elevated arsenic levels in Buruli Ulcer endemic community cannot be ignored. These results might confirm some aspect of earlier works linking arsenic to a possible BU infection though further research is urgently needed to unravel the mystery surrounding the possible mode of transmission of this neglected yet treatable disease.
Samuel Fosu Gyasi, Esi Awuah, John Asiedu Larbi and George Asumeng Koffuor, 2012. Arsenic in Water and Soil: A Possible Contributory Factor in Mycobacterium ulcerans Infection in Buruli Ulcer Endemic Areas. Asian Journal of Biological Sciences, 5: 66-75.