J. Bio. Env. Sci.3( 10), 61-69, October 2013
The study assessed heavy metal (lead, zinc, cobalt, chromium and cadmium) and physicochemical properties (pH, cation exchange capacity, electrical conductivity, organic carbon and clay content) of soil samples in Ishiagu lead- zinc mining area. Soil samples were collected at depths of 0-15cm, 16-30cm and 31-45cm from abandoned pit, active pit, artificial lake and tailing in the study area, and from a control site. Results of laboratory analysis indicated that heavy metal concentration followed the order zinc>lead>cobalt>chromium>cadmium with the control site having the least concentration. Heavy metal concentration was above normal limits in soil. Variations were also observed in soil physicochemical properties. Statistical analysis showed significance differences in both heavy metal content and physicochemical properties of soil between sites (p<0.05). There were no significant differences (p˃ 0.05) with respect to depth. There is high risk of heavy metal contamination of water and vegetation from the tailing area due to its low pH, while the higher clay content at the mining area may help impede metal dissolution. However, the high content of these toxic metals in the soil may have adverse effects on soil quality and on human health if they get into the food chain. In order to reduce the likelihood of this occurring, illegal artisanal mining and the consumption of contaminated plant and water should be strongly discouraged.
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