Assessment of community awareness, physicochemical parameters, organic contaminants and toxic metals of alcoholic beverages in Muthithi, Murang'a county, Kenya
Githinji, Peter Kaguru
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Brewing is an ancient industry that dates back 9000 years and to date more than 100 billion liters of beer are consumed annually. In Kenya alcoholic beverages industry is more liberal with the previously referred to as ‘illicit alcoholic beverages’ being legalized in November 2010, by the passing of Alcohol Law (Mututho Law). Production and consumption of some alcoholic beverages has been on increase partly due to high cost of commercial alcoholic drinks. People have died, others gone blind or suffered a myriad of other health conditions related to consumption of some alcoholic beverages. Unlicensed alcoholic beverages have no standard procedures of preparation and this may lead to contamination by organic compounds and toxic metals including aluminium (Al), iron (Fe), lead (Pb), copper (Cu), cadmium (Cd), manganese (Mn) and zinc (Zn). Despite the wealth of knowledge on levels of organic compounds and toxic metals in commercial wines, beers, spirits and some indigenous alcoholic beverages from urban settings, little has been reported on the beverages in rural areas where some are prepared and where most Kenyans reside. The objective of this study was to assess the types of alcoholic beverages available in Muthithi location of Murang’a County, determine levels of some organic compounds, toxic metals, turbidity and pH. A questionnaire was used to establish the types of alcoholic beverages available in Muthithi and samples of beverages purchased. Determination of ethanol, methanol, propan-1-ol, propan-2-ol, ethanal, methanal, ethyl ethanoate, amyl alcohols and ethanoic acid was done using gas chromatography, GC, while that of Al, Fe, Pb, Cu, Cd, Mn and Zn was done using atomic absorption spectrometry, AAS. Turbidity and pH were done using a turbidimeter and a pH meter, respectively. The alcoholic beverages available in Muthithi were bottled beers, Keg Beer, Muratina, Miti ni dawa, Changaa, various spirits and Busaa. The social demographic characteristics of study participants who consumed alcoholic beverages included married people (77%) of whom men (79%) were more than women. Most people had secondary level of education (58%) and were salaried (46%). The most popular alcoholic beverage was Keg Beer (45%). Most alcohol consumers took 5-10 glasses (53%) of alcoholic beverage in a sitting and drank 7 days per week (25%). Respondents reported no negative effects (67%) of their drinking, while storage containers were reported as aluminium (39%) and plastic (38%). Most respondents presumed that methanol (84%) was the additive that makes alcoholic drinks stronger and that they did not know of anyone (97%) hospitalized or dead from drinking alcohol at the time. The mean levels of organic compounds ranged from the highest 258190±7942 mg/L for ethanol to the lowest below detection limit (BDL) to 14.6 mg/L for methanol. The mean levels of toxic metals ranged as follows from the highest 3.06±0.48 mg/L for Al to BDL (<0.01 mg/L) for Cd and Cu. Levels of all organic compounds were within safe limits but levels of some toxic metals were above maximum allowable limits (MAL). However, excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages was the main problem. The results of this study will be availed to the relevant authorities for the necessary action.