Boadu Named Carnegie African Diaspora Fellow

Award will support an outreach program in Ghana in a collaborative effort to educate citizens and create awareness about the dangers of hydrocarbon water contamination

Fred Boadu, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, has been named a Carnegie African Diaspora Fellow.

The scholar program supports 100 short-term faculty fellowships for African-born academics and is offered by the Institute of International Education and funded by a two-year grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. Recipients of the award initiate educational projects with the help of faculty at higher education institutions in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

In preliminary work, Boadu found high concentrations of toxic heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in soils and drinking water around auto-mechanic repair villages, which are significantly above the maximum recommended levels. These contaminations are due to the indiscriminate disposal of used motor oil or paint on bare ground by auto mechanics.

Auto mechanics in these villages are usually less privileged high school dropouts with little awareness or knowledge about polluting the environment and its implication on human health. There are tens and hundreds of such auto-mechanic villages in many cities in Ghana and the whole of Africa due to increasing human population, urban growth and attendant increased use of motor vehicles.

This summer, with the program’s support, Boadu will seek to establish collaborations in Ghana at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Together with colleagues from the local university, Boadu hopes to use research to educate the local population about the dangers of contaminating drinking water by improperly disposing of used paint, motor oil and other hydrocarbons.

“My goal is to find local researchers, engineers and scientists to work with and empower them to do something on their own,” said Boadu, originally from Ghana. “These people are not aware of the problem and must be educated.  I have done this successfully before through a Duke Engage program to educate farmers about nitrate pollution of drinking water resources. I want to capture the interest of engineering students hoping to use their engineering education to make an impact in less privileged worlds with such challenges.”