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Product Code: 00007319

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This study was carried out to determine the level of heavy metals concentration in soil and settled dust samples in four (4) randomly selected auto-mechanic workshops at varying depths 0-5cm, 5-10cm, 10-15cm and 15-20cm respectively. A total of sixteen (16) soils samples were collected in four different mechanic workshops at Afikpo in Afikpo North L.G.A, Ebonyi State. Four control samples were also collected in a primary school which is about 3 to 4km away from the activities of the mechanic workshops. Four (4) settled dust samples were equally randomly collected from abandoned cars packed in the four selected mechanic workshops. The soil samples were analysed for heavy metal concentration, pH and electrical conductivity (EC). Four heavy metals (As, Cd, Hg and Pd) were determined using AAS method. The dust samples were analysed for only heavy metals concentration. The pH of the soils ranged between 4.29 and 5.78 in the mechanic workshops and 4.39 and 5.78 in the control soil, which is below the neutral level of 7.00. The electrical conductivity (EC) ranged between 46.40µscm-1 and 312.60µscm-1mechanic workshops and 50.80µscm-1and 81.00µscm-1for the control, which shows high conductivity values in the mechanic workshops in comparison with the control which indicates acidity and presences of soluble inorganic salts. Arsenic and Mercury were not detected in all the soil and dust samples from all the mechanic workshops and control. The heavy metal concentration (mg/kg) of Cd ranged from 2.18mg/kg and 97.67mg/kg in the mechanic workshops with the highest at Ndubuise Mechanic workshop (NDMWS). Pb was of higher concentration in all the mechanic workshops with the highest of 276.96mg/kg at Ebiri mechanic workshop (EBMWS). Generally, variations exist in the concentration within mechanic workshops at different depths. Comparison of the results of the mechanic workshops and the control, shows that the mechanic workshops were moderately contaminated (polluted) which may be due to the anthropogenic waste generated from the workshops. The concentration of Cd ranged from 43.63mg/kg to 3.45mg/kg in settled dust samples. Also, the concentration of Pb ranged from 252.21 mg/kg to 105.88 mg/kg. The obtained results indicate various levels of dust pollution by these metals in the mechanic workshops and so calls for concern due to the health implications of these metals.


Title page                                                                                                                   i

Declaration                                                                                                                ii

Certification                                                                                                              iii

Dedication                                                                                                                 iv

Acknowledgements                                                                                                   v

Table of Contents                                                                                                      vi

List of Tables                                                                                                             ix

List of Figures                                                                                                           x

List of Plates                                                                                                             xi

List of Acronyms                                                                                                      xii

Abstract                                                                                                                     xiii



1.1      Background of the Study                                                                               1

1.2      Statement of the Problem                                                                               4

1.3      Aim and Objectives of the Research                                                              5

1.4      Significance of the Study                                                                               5

1.5      Scope and Delimitation of the Research                                                        6



2.1      Heavy Metals                                                                                                  8

2.2      Cadmium                                                                                                        8

2.2.1   Natural and anthropogenic sources of cadmium                                            9

2.1.1b Sources of cadmium in the environment                                                        10

2.1.1c Effects of cadmium on human health                                                             10

2.2.2   Lead                                                                                                                11

2.2.2a Natural and anthropogenic sources of lead                                                    11

2.2.2b Sources of lead in the environment                                                               12

2.2.2c Effects of lead on human health                                                                     13

2.3.3   Arsenic                                                                                                            14

2.3.3a Natural and anthropogenic sources of arsenic                                                14

2.3.3b Effects of arsenic in the environment                                                             15

2.3.3c Effects of arsenic on human health                                                                16

2.4.4   Mercury                                                                                                           17

2.4.4a Natural and anthropogenic sources of mercury                                              17

2.4.4b Effects of mercury in the environment                                                           18

2.4.4c Effects of mercury on human health                                                              19

2.5.5   Copper                                                                                                            21

2.5.5a Natural and anthropogenic sources of copper                                                21

2.6.6   Chromium                                                                                                       21

2.6.6a Natural and anthropogenic sources of chromium                                           22

2.6.6b Effects of chromium on human health                                                           22

2.7      Behaviour of Heavy Metals in the Environment                                            23

2.8      Some Studies on Heavy Metals Contamination on Soil and Settled Dust     25

2.9      Soil and Soil Profile                                                                                        29

2.9.9a Soil                                                                                                                  29

2.9.9b Soil profile                                                                                                      29

2.9.9c Soil horizons                                                                                                   30

2.10    Properties of Soil                                                                                            32

2.10.10a Soil pH                                                                                                        32

2.10.10b Oxidation and reduction in soil                                                                  33

2.10.10c Electrical conductivity                                                                                33



3.1      Study Area Description                                                                                  34

3.2      Materials Used                                                                                                36

3.3      Samples Collection                                                                                         36

3.3.1   Collection of soil samples and treatment                                                        36       

3.3.2   Collection of dust samples                                                                              37

3.4      Samples Digestion Procedures                                                                        38

3.4.1   Sample digestion procedures for soil samples                                    38

3.4.2   Sample digestion procedures for dust Samples                                              38

3.5      Determination of pH                                                                                       39

3.6      Determination of Electrical Conductivity                                                      39

3.7      Preparation of Stock Solution                                                                         39

3.8      Preparation of Heavy Metals Standard Solution for AAS                             39

3.9      Atomic absorption Spectro Photometry (AAS) Analysis                               41

3.10.   Statistical Method of Analysis                                                                      41

3.10.1. Mean                                                                                                              41

3.10.2 Standard deviation                                                                                         42



4.1      Results                                                                                                            43

4.1.1   Distribution of metals in the soil from the mechanic workshop

along with the Control                                                                                    44 Cadmium (Cd):                                                                                             44 Lead (Pb):                                                                                                      45 Arsenic and mercury:                                                                        45

4.2.     Discussion                                                                                                       47

4.2.1.  Heavy metals on soils                                                                                     47

4.2.2.  Effect of the auto mechanic workshops                                                         53

4.2.3.  Heavy Metals on settled dust                                                                         54



5.1      Conclusion                                                                                                      60

5.2      Recommendations                                                                                          61




    2.1   Major health effects attributed to lead explosive                                                          13    

    2.2:  Health effects in environmentally exposed populations

attributed to arsenic                                                                                                       16

     4.1  The Mean physico-chemical properties of the examined soils

in the mechanic workshop along with the control.                                                        43

     4.2  Mean concentration of heavy metals in soil of the mechanic

workshop along with the control (Mg/Kg)                                                                    45

     4.3  Mean concentration of heavy metals in settled dust

from the mechanic workshop (Mg/Kg)                                                                           46

     4.4  Anova table for Cd                                                                                                         56

     4.5  Anova table for Pb                                                                                                          57

     4.6  Anova table for Cd in settled dust                                                                                 58

 4.7  Anova table for Pb in settled dust                                                                                  58

            LIST OF FIGURES

2.1      Key processes that affect the speciation and mobility

of mercury in aquatic environment.                                                                19

2.2:     Routs of mercury explosive in humans.                                                          20

2.3:     Behavior of heavy metals in the environment                                    23

2.4:     A hypothetical model of the source of occupational wastes

causing soil pollution in mechanical villages.                                      24

2.5:     Diagram of soil profile                                                                                    31

3.0:     Map of Ebonyi State showing Afikpo North L.G.A.                                     35

3.1:     Map of Afikpo showing sampling points coordinates and distance               35

3.2:     Grid map showing sampling points and coordinates                                      37

4.1      A plot of mean values of pH                                                                          48

4.2      A plot of mean values of electrical conductivity (EC)                                   49

4.3      A plot of mean values of cadmium (Cd)                                                        51

4.4      A plot of mean values of lead(Pb)                                                                  51

4.5      A plot of overall mean (Cd and Pb) mechanic workshops

           against control mean (Cd and Pb)                                                                  53

4.6.     A plot of mean values of settled dust for cadmium(Cd).                               54

4.7.     A plot of mean values of settled dust for lead(Pb).                                       55






1       Collection of dust sample                             38



ABMWS                                                                   Abuja Mechanic workshop

ABTMWS                                                                 Abuja Tipa mechanic workshop

NDMWS                                                                   Ndubuise mechanic workshop

EBMWS                                                                    Ebiri mechanic workshop

 OHPS                                                                       Ohabuike primary school

Ss                                                                               Some of square

Ms                                                                              Mean square

Df                                                                              Degree of freedom

As                                                                              Arsenic

Cd                                                                              Cadmium

Hg                                                                              Mercury

Pb                                                                              Lead










Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that causes adverse, change, instability, disorder, harm, or discomfort to the ecosystem. The sources of pollution can be naturally or anthropogenic occurring. Pollutants when occur naturally, are considered contaminants when they exceed their natural levels (Almanac, 2010, Hill, 2010).

Pollution is a serious problem the world over in which millions of world inhabitants suffer health related problems from waste generated from anthropogenic activities. In recent years pollution has increased considerably as a result of an increasing human activity such as burning of fossil fuels, industrial and automobile exhaust emissions

(Amusan et al., 2003, Kanchev et al., 2005). These activities are identified to be introducing a number of toxic metals into the environment (Amusan et al., 2003). Some of these harmful or toxic chemical compounds that are released into the atmosphere or environment is carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and particulate matter, which include lead from gasoline additives, zinc, copper and cadmium from tyreabrasion, lubricants, and other industrial emissions (Kanchev et al., 2005). Heavy metalscontribute a greater part of these harmful or toxic chemicals released into the environment.

Heavy metals are chemical elements mostly with density greater than 4g/cm3 found in all kinds of soils, rocks and water in terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems (Lacatusu, 1998, Duffus, 1980, Martin et al., 1982). They occur in typical background concentrations in the ecosystem. They come from different sources in urbanized areas; including vehicle emissions, industrial discharges and manufacturing, and other activities (Harrison,1981, Alloway, 1990, Thorton, 1990, Adentuji and Odetokun, 2011, Asamoah-Boateng,2009). Heavy metals are simply metals or metalloids with a potential negative health effect or of environmental concern. These elements include vanadium, iron, manganese, cobalt, copper, zinc, selenium, strontium, lead, molybdenum, etc.

The release of heavy metals into air, water and soil is one of the most significant environmental problems caused by anthropogenic activities such as urban road construction, quarrying, agriculture, waste incinerations, sewage disposal, auto-mechanic workshops, bush burning, etc. (Alloway, 1995, Akoto et al., 2008). Some of the well known or most occurring toxic metallic elements with regards to potential hazards incontaminated soils are; arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), iron (Fe), mercury (Hg) and lead(Pb) (Alloway, 1995). Their presence has been considered as useful indicators for contamination in surface soil, sediments and dust environments (Harrikumar et al., 2010).

Heavy metals are used in so many industrial applications as in the manufacturing of batteries, alloys, electroplated metal parts, etc., with the products find in our homes and actually add to our quality of life when properly used. Nutritionally, trace quantities of some of these heavy metals such as; iron, copper, manganese, and zinc are essential for a healthy life (

Heavy metal pollutants are non-degradable and severely inhibit the biodegradation of organic contaminants in the environment, and will becomes threaten to humans and other biological life at any high levels upon acute and chronic exposure (Tam and Wong, 2000,Yuan et al., 2004, Mohiuddin et al., 2010, Brinkmann, 1994, Sheppard, 1998). Their accumulations not only contaminate the surface environment but also contributes to air pollution, as they may become airborne and eventually enter the drainage system to affect aquatic ecosystems. In general, the presence of heavy metals in high concentrations in the environment results in health hazards such as adverse effects of the nervous system, blood formation, renal and reproductive systems. Others include; reduced intelligence, attention deficit and behavioral abnormality, as well as its contribution to cardiovascular diseases in adults and children (Adelekan and Abegunde, 2011). For children, ingestion of contaminated soil is found to be the most significant pathway into the body (Chaney et al., 1989, EPA, 1997).

According to Adewole and Uchegbu, (2010), auto-mechanic activities are one of the major sources of heavy metal contamination of the ecosystem in Nigeria. This could also be true for Ghana as a developing country since the mode of activities in both countries is quite similar. Auto-mechanic workshops are establishments offering miscellaneous repair services (Udebuani et al., 2010) ranging from simple and fast oil change to complex engine rebuilding. They also provide body repair and painting services. The operational processes by auto-mechanic workshops often involve the use of highly toxic and hazardous materials such as solvents, paints, and primers. It also involves battery charging, welding and soldering, automobile body works, painting/spraying and etc.

Wastes from such activities include spent lubricants, worn-out parts, metal scraps,stripped oily sludge and packaging materials (Loranger et al., 1994, EEA, 2007). The care finishing process results in the improved look of the vehicle but generates hazardous wastes that require appropriate disposal (Kostyantyn, 1997). Petrol, diesel, solvents, grease, and lubricants can either be accidentally or deliberately released into the environment.

As a result of frictional wear, the hydraulic fluids collect heavy metal debris containing

Pb, Cd, Zn, Fe, Cu, etc. Usually an automobile waste will consist of auto body scraps (Aland Zn), pieces of mild steel (Fe), electrical components and wires (Cu and Pb). Many of these petroleum products are organic chemicals that can be highly toxic and hazardous to soil, flora and fauna. The use of automobiles and its repairs has generally led to heavy metals contamination in soil, which have grave consequences for soil dwelling organisms(Adewoyin et al., 2013).


Industrialization in Nigeria is advancing at a fast rate. This has led to large increase in the rate of urbanization and automobile mechanic village is also on the increase due to the high level of car usage in Nigeria. Environmental pollution is on the increase as a result of indiscriminate sitting of the automobile mechanic village and motor park. Therefore, there are serious problems poised to the environment and the health of humans. In Nigeria, there are some information as applied to heavy metal pollution from auto-mechanic workshops. The activities within the auto-mechanic workshops, create the potential for the accumulation of heavy metals in the working environment, near and far. These Auto-mechanic workshops are mostly located by the road side, in the open and on bare soil.

The activities therein are done mostly in non-scientific ways. Consequently, contaminants from fuel, lubricants, used batteries, etc. are easily released into the environment. These contaminants have adverse effects on soil, water and air quality in the general environment and even some distance from the vicinity (Lacatusu, 1998; Ayodele and Abubakari,2001) of the auto-mechanic workshops and poses health risk. It is therefore necessary to determine pollution levels of heavy metals at auto-mechanic workshop sites. One needs to also know the contributions from specific activities such as auto-welding, auto-spraying, auto-electrical and auto-mechanical locations within the auto-workshops. Assessment of health hazards will help established the significance of environmental and health impact of heavy metals from auto-mechanic workshops.



This research work is concerned with the evaluation of heavy metals concentration in the soil and settled dust of automobile mechanic workshops in Afikpo.

Some specific objectives of this study are stated below:

1.      To determine heavy metals content of some soil samples obtained from certain automobile mechanic workshops in Afikpo

2.      To determine the level of air born heavy metals from abandoned vehicles in the automobile mechanic workshops studied.

3.      To statistically examine the relationship between the areas of research and control site.

4.      To contribute to the generation of data for the purposes of regulations

5.      To Make appropriate recommendations.


Heavy metals pollution problems are in every nation around the globe and contamination of land by these toxic metals has become a major public issue in the world today. Therefore, this study will be significant in the following ways;

-          It will help in producing data about the toxic metalsin the various mechanic workshops under study

-          It will provide baseline data that could be used to improve the health and safety of the environment

-          The information got from this study would provide a basis for preventing further contamination and provide some more scientific decontamination strategies.

-          The result of this study shall guide as action plan towards the decontamination efforts of local authorities and as well as the ministry of health



Out of the many auto-mechanic workshops within Afikpo, sampling was done in four (4)auto-mechanic workshops. This was due to the fact that auto-mechanic workshop owners were not ready to give permission to the researcher. The research seeks to determine the heavy metal levels of soils and settled dust at the auto-mechanic workshops and the health risk assessment associated with the heavy metals. The period for sampling collection was from 3th February to 20th February, 2017. Fractionated size of 100 μm of the soil from the selected auto-mechanic workshops were analyzed using atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS) technique.


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