Biomonitoring And Control of Environmental Toxicants: Heavy Metals And Mycotoxins
Studies on environmental toxicants are also carried out by the Department. The studies on mycotoxins have focused on the exposure of humans to aflatoxin and intervention studies to preclude aflatoxin toxicity. Aflatoxins are metabolites produced by the fungi Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus that contaminate foods such as groundnuts and maize. Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) is a potent carcinogen that can adversely affect the liver and immune status. It is also known to cause adversely affect the growth of children resulting in stunting. Novasil, a montmorillonite natural clay has been shown to bind aflatoxin by adsorbing it in the gastrointestinal tract of animals and humans. Studies have been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of Novasil in binding aflatoxin in children. Some foods have also been shown to block the formation of the toxic metabolite, in humans. The department has investigated the potential of some vegetables in Ghana for their potential to block the toxic metabolite of AFB1, aflatoxin 8,9-epoxide. The thrust of the heavy metal studies has been to assess the exposure of humans and the environment to various heavy metals, as these pose serious health challenges to humans and the environment.