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Product Code: 00007315

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This study investigates the concentration of heavy metals (Zn, Pb, Cd and As) in the soil and leachate from the unlined dumpsite at Ubakala, Umuahia South L.G.A, Abia State, Nigeria. Soil samples from different layers; 0-15cm, 15-30cm and 30-45cm, were collected from three sampling locations, PA, PB. PC and a control site 300M away from the dumpsite, PD. Leachate samples were also collected from leachate pools at the three sampling locations; A, B, C. The soil and leachate samples were analysed using Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer, SPECTRA AA100. The mean concentration of heavy metals for soil samples across the three sampling locations of the dumpsite ranged from; 7.68±0.10 to 12.40±0.20mg/kg for Zinc, 0.60±0.10 to 3.29±0.10mg/kg for Lead, 0.60±0.10 to 9.45±0.20mg/kg for Cadmium and Arsenic ND (not detected). The mean concentrations for leachate samples across the three sampling locations of the dumpsite ranged from; 0.049±0.001 to 0.061±0.001mg/L for Zinc, 0.023±0.001 to 0.056±0.001mg/L for Lead, 0.037±0.001 to 0.050±0.002mg/L for Cadmium, and Arsenic (ND) not detected. The mean concentration of the heavy metals in the soil sample from the control site ranged from 0.34±0.19 to 1.13±0.03mg/kg for Zinc, 0.74±0.05 to 1.45±0.14mg/kg for Lead, 0.33±0.09 to 1.70±0.07mg/kg for Cadmium and Arsenic was not also detected. The concentrations of heavy metals in the soil and leachate samples display the following decreasing trend Zn˃ Cd˃ Pd. From the results, it was found that the mean concentrations of the heavy metals in the soil of the control site was significantly (p≤0.05) lower than their concentrations in the dumpsite soil and there were also significant differences in the heavy metal concentrations among the three sampling locations PA, PB and PC of the dumpsite, indicating uneven distribution of heavy metals across the dumpsite.. There is high mobility of the heavy metals down the soil profile (as the mean concentrations increased down the soil depth) which indicates possible underground water contamination. The results of this work have revealed that the mean concentration of heavy metals investigated in the soil samples were within the maximum tolerable levels proposed for agricultural soil by WHO (1993) with the exception of cadmium which was higher than the maximum tolerable limits (0.02-0.5mg/kg), while the heavy metals found in leachate were exceeding the allowable limits for Nigerian Standard for Drinking Water Quality set by SON (2007) except for Zinc which is within the allowable limit. These observations suggest that there is tendency of accumulation of these metals in the future as the dumpsite represents a significant source of heavy metal contamination of soil and underground water.



Title Page                                                                                                                    i

Declaration                                                                                                                  ii

Certification                                                                                                                iii

Dedication                                                                                                                  iv

Acknowledgements                                                                                                    v

Table of Contents                                                                                                       vi

List of Tables                                                                                                              x

List of Figures                                                                                                             xi

List of Plates                                                                                                               xii

Abstract                                                                                                                      xiii




1.1              Background of the Study                                                                               1

1.2              Statement of Problem                                                                                     4

1.3              Project Site                                                                                                      5

1.4              Aims and Objectives                                                                                       5

1.5              Scope and Limitation                                                                                      6

1.6      Significance of the Study                                                                                6


CHAPTER 2:                   LIERATURE REVIEW


2.1      Heavy metals                                                                                                   7

2.1.1   Metal toxicity                                                                                                    7

2.1.2   Heavy metal definitions                                                                                   8

2.2      Sources of Heavy Metals                                                                                 9

2.2.1   Cadmium                                                                                                         10

2.2.2   Mercury                                                                                                            11

2.2.3   Lead                                                                                                                 12

2.2.4   Arsenic                                                                                                             13

2.2.5   Zinc                                                                                                                  14

2.2.6   Nickel                                                                                                               15

2.2.7   Chromium                                                                                                        15

2.3      Environmental and Health Impacts of the Heavy Metals                               16

2.3.1   Cadmium                                                                                                         16

2.3.2   Mercury                                                                                                            17

2.3.3   Lead                                                                                                                 18 Effects on soils                                                                                               18 on plants                                                                                              18 on human health                                                                                  19

2.3.4   Arsenic                                                                                                             19

2.3.5   Chromium                                                                                                        20

2.3.6   Nickel                                                                                                               21

2.4      Review of some Studies on Heavy Metals Contaminations                            22

2.5      Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (AAS)                                                       25

2.5.1   Principles of atomic absorption spectroscopy                                                  26

2.5.2   Theory of atomic absorption spectrophotometry                                             27

2.5.3   Schematic diagram of an atomic absorption spectrometer                              28

2.5.4 Advantages of AAS                                                                                          28

2.5.5 Disadvantages of using AAS                                                                            29

2.6 Atomic Emission Spectroscopy                                                                            29

2.6.1 Atomic emission spectroscopy principle                                                            30

2.7      Soil                                                                                                                   31

2.8      Properties of Soil                                                                                             32

2.8.1   Soil clay minerals                                                                                             32

2.8.2   Soil organic matter                                                                                           32

2.8.3   Soil pH                                                                                                             33

2.8.4   Oxidation and reduction in the soil                                                                 34

2.8.5   Soil texture and structure                                                                                 34

2.8.6   Soil profile                                                                                                       35

2.9      Factors Influencing Metal Availability in Soils                                               36

2.10    Leachate                                                                                                           37




3.1     Equipment and Laboratory Wares                                                                    39

3.2     Reagents and Chemicals                                                                                   39

3.3     Study Area                                                                                                        40

3.4     Sampling                                                                                                           43

3.4.1 Sample collection                                                                                               43

3.4.2 Sample preparation                                                                                            46

3.5     Acid Digestion for Heavy Metal Analysis in Soil samples                               46

3.6     Acid Digestion for Heavy Metals Analysis in Leachate Samples                    46

3.7     Preparation of Stock Solutions for the Analysis                                               47

3.8     Preparation of Heavy Metal Standards for Analysis                                        47

3.9     AAS Analysis of Samples                                                                               48

3.10   Determination of pH                                                                                         48

3.11   Determination of Electrical Conductivity                                                        48

3.12   Statistical Methods of Analysis                                                                        48




4.1     Results                                                                                                              50

4.1.1  Physicochemical parameters of soil sample (pH and EC)                                 50

4.1.2  Physicochemical parameters of leachate samples (pH and EC)                        52

4.1.3  Heavy metal concentrations in the soil samples                                                52

4.1.4  Heavy metal concentration in the leachate samples                                          52

4.1.5  Illustration on statistical data analysis for soil and leachate (mean±SD)         56       4.2     Discussion                                                                                                            68




5.1    Conclusion                                                                                                        73

5.2    Recommendation                                                                                               73

         References                                                                                                         75

        Appendices                                                                                                        83






                                                         LIST OF TABLES

 3.1:   Sampling locations coordinates                                                                                    44

 4.1:   Results of physicochemical parameters of the soil samples;

           soil pH and EC (µS/cm).                                                                                              53    4.2:    Results of physicochemical parameters of the leachate samples; pH and EC.                53 4.3:    Mean concentrations of heavy metals in the soil (mg/kg)                                            54 4.4:    Mean concentrations of heavy metals in dumpsite leachate (mg/L).                                  55    4.5:    Two-way Analysis of Variance of zinc concentrationin the soil of dumpsite

          and control                                                                                                                    57 4.6:    Two-way Analysis of Variance of lead concentration in the soil of dumpsite

          and control site                                                                                                             58

4.7:   Two-way Analysis of Variance of cadmium concentration in the soil of

         dumpsite and control site                                                                                               59 4.8:   One-way Analysis of Variance of zinc concentration in leachate samples                       60  4.9:   One-way Analysis of Variance of lead concentration in leachate samples                   61                                                                                                                   

4.10:   One-way Analysis of Variance of cadmium concentration in leachate samples         62 4.11:   Range of trace metals concentrations in the soil accepted by WHO (mg/kg)             63

4.12:   Nigerian standard for drinking water quality; metals maximum allowable

          limits for drinking water set by NIS and approved by SON (2007)                            64                                                       







                                               LIST OF FIGURES

 2.1:    Schematic diagram of an atomic absorption spectrometer                              28

 2.2:    Layers of asoil profile                                                                                      35

 3.1:    Map of the study area                                                                                      41

 4.1:    The plot of mean concentration of Zinc(mg/kg) down the soil depths

            in the dumpsite.                                                                                               65

4.2:    The plot of mean concentration of Lead (mg/kg) down the soil depth

           in the dumpsite                                                                                                66

4.3:    The plot of mean concentration of cadmium (mg/kg) down the soil

          depth in the dumpsite                                                                                        67

 4.4:    Mean concentration of heavy metals (mg/L) in the leachate across

           the sampling locations A, B and C                                                                  67






                                                      LIST OF PLATES

2.1:     An open dumpsite showing generated leachate.                                              38                   

 3.1:   Front view; Sampling site at Ubakala dumpsite, Umuahia South

           L.G.A,Abia State.                                                                                             42                                                                   

3.2:   Soil sampling using soil auger                                                                           45                                                                  








                                                          CHAPTER 1


1.1              BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Dumpsites are and will remain a necessary and important component of managing solid waste (Heimlich, 2000). Dumping is a process of waste management by which solid wastes are separated from homes, offices, industries, farmlands, commercial areas etc and are kept in designated places where they are treated and properly handled in other not to affect the environment and public health. Municipal solid waste is an unavoidable by-product of human activity. Population and economic growth have lead to massive amount of solid waste creation by dwellers of the urban areas (Karishnamurti and Naidu, 2003). Urban solid waste is usually generated from human settlement, industries and commercial activities (Sing et al., 2011).

A modern dump site is a well engineered, well constructed and well controlled land disposal site for non-hazardous waste, which makes use of the latest science and technology to protect the environment and public health from heavy metal contamination, hazardous gases such as methane and carbon(iv)oxide, and air pollution (bad odours). This is achieved by employing the engineering principles to border the solid waste to the smallest practical area, installation of a bottom line for leachate collection and an underlying pipe for collection and pumping of dump site gases.

Unfortunately, in developing countries this kind of dumpsite is farfetched, open dumpsites are commonly practiced, due to the low budget for waste disposal and non-availability of trained man power. Open dumping of municipal solid waste is a common practice in Nigeria. It is a process of dumping municipal waste in a manner that affects the environment by contaminating the soil with heavy metals due the absence of bottom liner and thisposes a threat to public health. Open dumping constitutes a serious risk to underground water resources and soil. Heavy metals contamination of soil may cause adverse effect on human health, animals and soil productivity. (Smith et al.,1996).

The municipal dumping site located at Ubakala, Umuahia South L.G.A, along Umuahia-Aba express way, Abia State is a typical example of an open dump site. Umuahia is a non-industrial city and  waste generated in the city comprise largely of bio-degradable materials from markets, farms, schools, offices and household such as garbage ,plastic etc. These solid wastes contain some amount of heavy metals, which are considered to be one of the major sources of pollution in the terrestrial and aquatic environment. (Koomen et al., 1990).

Over the last couple of years, heavy metals have considerably damage of soil quality and fertility in consequence of increased environmental pollution from industrial, agricultural and municipal sources (Adriano, 1986).  Metals cause physiological disorders in soils as absorption through the root system consequently retards plants growth and deprives it of vigour (Moustakas et al., 1996). Waste carries different metals which are then transferred to plants by different ways (Voutsa et al.,1996).

 Improper disposal of metal containing materials and human waste tend to impact on heavy metal load of dumpsites soils. Consequently, dumpsite soils and leachates most often contain pronounced level of heavy metals. Terry (1999) and NVSWC (2008) have described the existence of heavy metals in soils as one of the greatest environmental problems that hamper agriculture in developing countries. Crops grown on such soils will no doubt contain high accumulation of heavy metals. Consumption of food containing heavy metals (Cd, As, Pb ,Hg,and Fe) by humans and animals predisposes the consumer to serious health hazards. Cadmium causes painful osteomalacia (bone disease), destruction of red blood cells and kidney damage leading to renal failure in human beings while lead (Pb) could lead to mental relapse, disruption of the biosynthesis of haemoglobin and anaemia; a rise in blood pressure, kidney damage etc (Odoh, 2011). Toxic metals can have health impacts on plants and animals and have been involved in causing alarge number of afflictions. (Sayadi and Torabi,2009).

Many incidents of heavy metal contamination in aquatic environment have increased the awareness about heavy metal toxicity (Upendra, 2006 ). Among these are the Minamata tragedies due to mercury poisoning and “Itai-Itai”disease in Japan due to cadmium toxicity is well known (Upedra, 2006). In Zamfara State, Nigeria, lead poisoning were recently reported   which lead to the death of several people and animals as a result of lead contamination of water bodies and environments (Isah, 2009).

However, municipal solid waste can be reused as organic fertilizer or for soil amendment after biological transformation (Marrios, 2004), but the heavy metal contained in it and its product have challenged its beneficial use (Azeez, 2011). According to Zhang et al. (2008), studies on the occurrence and distribution of heavy metals in municipal solid waste could assist policy makers and management authorities in eliminating the major contaminant sources. This will effectively modify municipal solid waste (MSW) collection, handling, treatment and disposal practices (Zhang et al., 2008). In most advanced and some developing countries, several physical and chemical sorting methods (hydrolysis, glycolysis and hydroglycolysis) have been used in sorting of waste prior to disposal. The sorting of waste is done with automated machines and equipment; however, these advanced MSW sorting techniques are not available in most developing countries including Nigeria. The manner at which waste accumulates in the dumpsites due to unavailability of these modern technologies has led to environmental and health implications. Therefore, there is urgent need to implement alternative ways of monitoring and managing the effects of MSW disposal in the country.

Traditionally, people cultivate a variety of crops in some temporarily abandoned section of the dumpsite. Also, farmers from nearby areas often collect “soil” from the dumpsite to be used as compost on the farms. This is of the general belief that natural fertility of the soil from a waste dumpsite is high (Amusa et al., 2005). However, many fall victim of heavy metal consumption due to lack of adequate information on the status of heavy metals in the dump sites as this serve as point of entry of heavy metals into the food chain and human body. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the extent of soil accumulation of heavy metals, their mobility in soil and relative amount in dumpsites.

 This study is therefore designed to evaluate the level of heavy metals (arsenic, lead, cadmium and zinc) contamination of soil and leachate of municipal open dumpsite located at Ubakala in Umuahia South Local Government Area of Abia State.


Human environmental pollution is increasing as a result of indiscriminate dumping of municipal waste on water and land and more especially for the practice of open dumping system of waste disposal. There are therefore serious problems posed to the environment and public health. The municipal solid waste contain large amount of heavy metals which are considered to be one of the major sources of pollution in the terrestrial and aquatic environments (Koomen et al., 1990)

Heavy metal deposition has significant effects on the general ecology of the environment. In Nigeria, many people are being exposed to these heavy metals by their several and long contact with them. The heavy metals can enter the food chain as a result of their uptake by food crops. They can also enter the water through deposition of the industrial waste, through agricultural run-off waters or through run-off leachate from dumpsites.

Dumpsites, therefore is one major source of heavy metals through the production of leachate; a liquid that percolates through the dump during decomposition. This leachate has high concentration of heavy metals and is the main contaminant of soil, groundwater and surface water.

            1.2              PROJECT SITE

The project site is at Ubakala Municipal dumpsite in Umuahia South Local Government Area of Abia State. It lies within the South-eastern part of Niger Delta Basin, between longitudes 7°22’ and 7°33’E and latitudes 5°26’and 5°34’N. It is within the subequatorial climatic belt characterized by two major seasons. The wet and dry season starts in April and ends in September with a peak in June and July while the dry season lasts from October to March. Rainfall is high in the area, with an annual average of about 400cm. Relative humidity is also high and generally are over 70%, while mean annual temperature is about 27°C. A lot of commercial activities including some small scale industries go on in Umuahia. These activities together with unrestricted population growth leads to the generation of high volume of solid and liquid waste which invariably contain some heavy metals.

            1.3              AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The aim of this study is to investigate the concentrations and distribution of heavy metals (Zn, Pb, Cd, As) in the soils and leachate samples from Ubakala dumpsite, Umuahia South L.G.A of Abia State Nigeria.

This aim will be achieved through the following objectives:

·         Random sampling of soil and leachate samples from the dumpsite and soil samples from the control site (a farm land 300 m from the dumpsite).

·         Assessment of the physicochemical parameters(pH and electrical conductivity) of the soil and leachate samples

·         Determination of the heavy metal; Zinc, Lead, Cadmium and Arsenic concentrations in the soil and leachate samples.

·         Compare and contrast the heavy metals concentration in the soil samples of the dumpsite and control site.

·         Comparison of results with recommended limits

·         Making appropriate recommendations.


The scope of this study is wide, ranging from collection of samples, digestion, determination of pH and electrical conductivity and the use of Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer (AAS) to determine the heavy metals. The data of this project work focuses on the municipal dumpsite at Ubakala, Umuahia South L.G.A, Abia State.


The results of this research work will show;

·         The level of accumulation of some heavy metals (Zn, Pb, Cd, As) in soil and leachate of the dumpsite at Ubalaka, Umuahia South L.G.A, Abia State,

·          The  mobility of these metals down the soil profile,

·         Possible waste dumps protection.

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