Accumulation and recovery capacity of heavy metals in sand mine ponds of the Otamiri River in Owerri, Nigeria
AbstractThis study investigated the levels, index of accumulation and recovery capacity of heavy metals (Pb, Cd, Cu, Ni, Zn, Fe, Mn) in sand mine ponds of the Otamiri River in Owerri, Nigeria during the wet season of 2012. Water (WC) and sediment samples (SD) were collected from six sampling points, with WC 1-WC 3 and SD 1-SD 3 located within a derelict mine pond and WC 4-WC 6 and SD 4-SD 6 located within an actively mined pond. The pH was determined in situ and levels of heavy metals measured with the atomic absorption spectrophotometer. The student’s t-test, index of geoaccumulation (Igeo), accumulation factor (AF) and pond recovery capacity (PRC) were computed for the ponds. There was significant spatial heterogeneity in mean levels of the heavy metals in sediments (sig. t=0.029) at P<0.05, with higher levels of metals also recorded in sediments than water columns. The order of Igeo was Fe (5.959) > Zn (4.932)> Cu (4.743) > Mn (4.326) > Pb (3.214) > Ni (2.483) > Cd (1.649), AF was Zn (1.513) > Cd (1.179) > Fe (1.082) > Ni (1.048) > Mn (1.042) > Cu (1.032) > Pb (0.987) and PRC was Zn (33.891) > Cd (15.165) > Fe (7.604) > Ni (4.608) > Mn (4.047) > Cu (3.052) > Pb (-1.373). Active mining led to extreme contamination of the ponds with Fe, strong to extreme contaminations with Cu, Zn and Mn, strong contamination with Pb, moderate to strong contamination with Ni and moderate contamination with Cd. However, Pb showed deficit recovery capacity and this could portend unfavourable ecological consequences on resident biota and raises public health concerns among resource dependants of the river. Strict enforcement of regulations on in-stream sand mining should be applied.
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