Ecological pollution and health risk monitoring assessment of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heavy metals in surface water, southeastern Nigeria

Umeh, C.T.; Nduka, J.K.; Omokpariola, D.O.; Morah, J.E.; Mmaduakor, E.C.; Okoye, N.H.; Lilian, E.-E.I.; Kalu, I.F.

Environmental Analysis Health and Toxicology 38(2): E2023007-3000


ISSN/ISBN: 2671-9525
PMID: 37114474
Accession: 090171150

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Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals (HMs) are predominant pollutants linked with anthropogenic activities across a host of environmental mediums. The level of pollution, ecological and health risk were assessed in surface water from Ekulu in Enugu metropolis, Nigeria for 17 PAHs and selected HMs (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Pb, Ni, Zn) components. PAHs and HMs were determined using a gas chromatography-flame ionization detector (GC-FID) and atomic adsorption spectrophotometer (AAS). The total PAHs in station A (3.17mg/l), B (1.51mg/l), and C (1.83mg/l) were due to high molecular weight (HMW) PAHs than low molecular weight (HMW) PAHs. HMs contents were within USEPA and WHO minimum contamination levels (MCL) except Cr and Pb. The molecular diagnostics of PAHs showed that incomplete combustion of carbonaceous compounds was dominant, while petrogenic was insignificant across all samples. The ecological indices of PAHs and HMs varied from medium to high pollution due to anthropogenic activities that pose a threat to the ecosystem. The non-carcinogenic models showed that hazard index (HI) ranged from PAHs (0.027 - 0.083) and HMs (0.0067 - 0.087) which is less than unity implying no adverse health issues. The lifetime cancer risk (LCR) for PAHs (4.21×10-4 - 9.61×10-4) and HMs (1.72×10-5 - 3.98×10-5) suggested significant cancer risk is possible over some time for a population of 1 in 10,000 and 100,000 for both PAHs and HMs exposure for 70 years. Therefore, there is an urgent need for proper pollution control and mitigation plan to preserve both age groups from being continuously exposed to anthropogenic activities in the Ekulu River and further study should be carried out to monitor the available toxicants.