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Cyanobacteria and microcystin contamination in untreated and treated drinking water in Ghana

Addico, Gloria Naa Dzama; Hardege, Jörg D.; Kohoutek, Jiri; DeGraft-Johnson, Kweku Amoaku Atta; Babica, Pavel


Gloria Naa Dzama Addico

Jiri Kohoutek

Kweku Amoaku Atta DeGraft-Johnson

Pavel Babica



© 2017, Page Press Publications. All rights reserved. Although cyanobacterial blooms and cyanotoxins represent a worldwide-occurring phenomenon, there are large differences among different countries in cyanotoxin-related human health risk assessment, management practices and policies. While national standards, guideline values and detailed regulatory frameworks for effective management of cyanotoxin risks have been implemented in many in­dustrialized countries, the extent of cyanobacteria occurrence and cyanotoxin contamination in certain geographical regions is underreported and not very well understood. Such regions include major parts of tropical West and Central Africa, a region constisting of more than 25 countries occupying an area of 12 million km2, with a total population of 500 milion people. Only few studies focusing on cyanotoxin occurrence in this region have been published so far, and reports dealing specifically with cyanotoxin contamination in drinking water are extremely scarce. In this study, we report seasonal data on cyanobactcria and microcystin (MC) contamination in drinking water reservoirs and adjacent treatment plants located in Ghana, West Africa. During January-June 2005, concentrations of MCs were monitored in four treatment plants supplying drinking water to major metropolitan areas in Ghana: the treatment plants Barekese and Owabi, which serve Kumasi Metropolitan Area, and the plants Kpong and Weija, providing water for Accra-Tema Metropolitan Area. HPLC analyses showed that 65% samples of raw water at the intake of the treatment plants contained intracellular MCs (maximal detected concentration was 8.73 fig L-1), whereas dissolved toxins were detected in 33% of the samples. Significant reduction of cyanobacterial cell counts and MC concentrations was achieved during the entire monitoring period by the applied conventional water treatment methods (alum flocculation, sedimentation, rapid sand filtration and chlorination), and MC concentration in the final treated water never exceeded 1 fig L-1 (WHO guideline limit for MC-LR in drinking water). However, cyanobacterial cells (93-3,055 cell mL-1) were frequently found in the final treated water and intracellular MCs were detected in 17% of the samples (maximal concentration 0.61 (μg L-1), while dissolved MCs were present in 14% of the final treated water samples (maximal concentration 0.81 μg L-1). It indicates a borderline efficiency of the water treatment, thus MC concentrations in drinking water might exceed the WHO guideline limit if the treatment efficiency gets compromised. In addition, MC concentrations found in the raw water might represent significant human health risks for people living in areas with only a limited access to the treated or underground drinking water.


Addico, G. N. D., Hardege, J. D., Kohoutek, J., DeGraft-Johnson, K. A. A., & Babica, P. (2017). Cyanobacteria and microcystin contamination in untreated and treated drinking water in Ghana. Advances in oceanography and limnology, 8(1),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 30, 2017
Online Publication Date Jun 14, 2017
Publication Date Oct 1, 2017
Deposit Date Aug 15, 2018
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Advances in Oceanography and Limnology
Print ISSN 1947-573X
Electronic ISSN 1947-5721
Publisher Taylor and Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 8
Issue 1
Keywords Aquatic Science; Oceanography
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Copyright Statement
Copyright (c) 2017 Gloria Naa Dzama Addico, Jörg D. Hardege, Jiří Kohoutek, K.A.A. deGraft-Johnson, Pavel Babica

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).

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