Human and environmental exposure to PCDD/Fs and dioxin-like PCBs in Africa: A review

Patrick Ssebugere, Mika Sillanpää, Henry Matovu, Edward Mubiru

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reviews literature for the last two decades with emphasis on levels, toxic equivalencies and sources of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (dl-PCBs) in Africa. Further, we comprehensively analysed data, interpret differences and identify existing gaps with those from other continents. We observed that high levels of PCDD/Fs and dl-PCBs were reported in environmental and biological samples near densely populated urban and industrialised areas compared to those in rural settings. In general, the concentrations of PCDD/Fs and dl-PCBs in the blood samples from Africa were in the same range as those from Asia but lower than those from Europe. The concentrations of dioxins and dioxin-like compounds in the atmosphere in Africa were comparable to and/or higher than those in developed countries. The reported sources of PCDD/Fs and dl-PCBs in Africa were industrial emissions, obsolete pesticide stockpiles, household heating, recycling of electronic waste, and incineration and combustion of domestic waste. Regional and intercontinental transport of dioxins could not be confirmed because of the lack of sufficient literature on them. Further data about the levels and sources of PCDD/Fs and dl-PCBs in Africa need to be generated to complete the chemical inventories for the continent and to facilitate the implementation of the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants. The reviewed literature shows that most analyses have been carried out in laboratories outside Africa because of the limited institutional capacity in Africa. More support needs to be given to laboratories in Africa to develop the capacity to accurately quantify dioxins on routine basis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-493
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Africa
  • Dioxin-like PCBs
  • PCDD/Fs
  • Review
  • Sources
  • Toxic equivalents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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