Arsenic Pollution Of The Subsurface Water

Project and Seminar Material for Geology

Arsenic Pollution Of The Subsurface Water


Study on arsenic pollution was conducted in Onitsha town in Anambra State, Nigeria to examine the pollution status of surface and subsurface water. Arsenic concentration in surface water within Onitsha metropolis ranged from 0.2001 mg/L (River Niger upstream) to 1.5883 mg/L (River Niger central drainage surface), while concentration in boreholes lies within the range of 0.0000 mg/L (22.2% of boreholes) and 1.2507 mg/L (creek road), respectively.

Arsenic concentration in sampled water from river sources is above the WHO standard (0.01 mg/ L) while 87.8% of Arsenic concentration in boreholes adjacent and closest to these rivers and creek is also above the world Health Organization standard (WHO, 2011) of mg/L. it is discovered that pollution of surface water is greater than that of the groundwater sources. Major sources of arsenic in Onitsha are refuse dumps, effluent from industries and sewage amongst other sources. Arsenic is known to be the most poisonous metal in existence on earth’s surface, its production should be carefully monitored and effluents treated before discharge into the environment.

Table Of Content

Preliminary Page(s)

  • Title page
  • Certification page
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Abstract
  • Table of content

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

  • 1.1 Background Of The Study
  • 1.2 Statement Of Problem
  • 1.3 Aim And Objectives Of Study
  • 1.4 Significance Of Study
  • 1.5 Scope Of Study

Chapter Two

2.0 Literature Review

  • 2.1 Conceptual Review
  • 2.2 Subsurface Water
  • 2.3 Arsenic Pollution
  • 2.4 Sources, Specialization, And Mobility Of As In Groundwater
  • 2.5 Arsenic: Health Risks

Chapter Three

3.0 Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Study Area
  • 3.2 Data Methods

Chapter Four

4.0 Results And Discussion

  • 4.1 Results
  • 4.2 Discussion

Chapter Five

5.0 Conclusion And Recommendation

  • 5.1 Conclusion
  • 5.2 Recommendation
  • References

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background Of The Study

Water is one of the major means of transport of arsenic in the environment. Soil erosion and leaching have been reported to contribute to the quantity of arsenic in dissolved and suspend form. Soil erosion and agricultural runoff are large contributors to the arsenic concentration in sediments too. Arsenic in its various chemical forms and oxidation states is released into the aquatic environment by natural erosion processes, sewage, refuse and industrial discharges. On release to the aquatic environment, the arsenic species enter into a methylation/ demethylation cycle, while some are bound to the sediments or taken up by biota where they could undergo metabolic conversion to other organoarsenicals (Islam and Tanaka, 2004). A chemical factory manufacturing several chemicals including the insecticide Paris – green (acetocopper arsenite), was responsible for the contamination of wells in the southern part of Calcutta, India. Over seven thousand people consumed the arsenic-contaminated water for several years, but this fact remained unnoticed until September, 1989.

A few died, and some of the victims were hospitalized, while symptoms of arsenic poisoning were evident in many families living in the area. Water samples analyzed for arsenic indicated extremely high levels of contamination, with total arsenic concentration ranging from as low as to as high as 58 mg/L (Viaraghavan et al., 1999). According to Krishnamurthy (1992), about 1% of Americans consume drinking water that has arsenic levels of 25 ppb or more, and in Utah and California water supplies have been found to contain as much as 500 ppb; also an estimated one-in-a-thousand lifetime risk of dying from cancer induced by normal background levels of arsenic (this equals the risk estimate due to tobacco smoke and radon exposure) (Kosnett, 2005).

Inorganic arsenic is a potent human carcinogen and general toxicant. More than one hundred million people are exposed to elevated concentrations, mainly via drinking water, but also via industrial emissions (Vahter, 2008). Arsenic is metabolized via methylation and reduction reactions, methylarsonic acid and dimethylarsinic acid being the main metabolites excreted in urine. Both inorganic arsenic and its methylated metabolites easily pass the placenta and both experimental and human studies have shown increased risk of impaired foetal growth and increased foetal loss.

Recent studies indicate that prenatal arsenic exposure also increases the risk of adverse effects during early childhood. There is a growing body of evidence that the intrauterine or early childhood exposure to arsenic also induces changes that will become apparent much later in life. One epidemiological study indicated that exposure to arsenic in drinking water during early childhood or in utero was associated with an increased mortality in young adults from both malignant and non-malignant lung disease. Furthermore, a series of experimental animal studies provide strong support for late effects of arsenic, including various forms of cancer, following intrauterine arsenic exposure. The involved modes of action include epigenetic effects, mainly via DNA hypomethylation, endocrine effects (most classes of steroid hormones), immune suppression, neurotoxicity, and interaction with enzymes critical for foetal development and programming (Vahter, 2008).

The mechanism of toxicity of arsenic is through induction of oxidative stress and impairment of the antioxidant defense mechanism, leading to apoptosis and cell death (Flora et al., 2008). Arsenicosis is the effect of arsenic poisoning, usually over a long period such as from 5 to 20 years.

1.2 Statement Of Problem

Drinking arsenic-rich water over a long period results in various health effects including skin problems (such as colour changes on the skin, and hard patches on the palms and soles of the feet), skin cancer, cancers of the bladder, kidney and lung, and diseases of the blood vessels of the legs and feet, and possibly also diabetes, high blood pressure and reproductive disorders. Absorption of arsenic through the skin is minimal and thus hand-washing, bathing, laundry, etc. with water containing arsenic do not pose human health risks. In China (Province of Taiwan) exposure to arsenic via drinking-water has been shown to cause a severe disease of the blood vessels, which leads to gangrene, known as ‘black foot disease’. This disease has not been observed in other parts of the world, and it is possible that malnutrition contributes to its development.

However, studies in several countries have demonstrated that arsenic causes other, less severe forms of peripheral vascular disease (WHO fact sheet, 2001). Chronic arsenic toxicity occurred as a large epidemic in Bangladesh (Smith et al., 2000, WHO, 2011). Ogbuagu and Ajiwe (1998) found that Onitsha North and South have the greatest concentration of Industries in Anambra state, and stand a high risk of industrial pollution. He inferred that some of the industries in the state discharge their waste into the environment with little or no treatment.

This study investigates concentration of Arsenic in surface and subsurface water within Onitsha metropolis and possible impact on populace.

1.3 Aim And Objectives Of Study

The aim of this study is to analyze the arsenic pollution of the subsurface water in Onitsha. The specific objective of the study can be subdivided into the following:

  1. To create both individual and public awareness of Arsenic pollution in the study area.
  2. To have knowledge regarding the diseases caused by Arsenic poisoning and mitigating measures available to prevent contamination.
  3. To identify Arsenic risk region, level of education, gender and age as important determinants of Arsenic knowledge.
  4. To know the extent of Arsenic pollution of the subsurface water in the study area.
  5. To prepare a study report that integrates observations made in the field.
  6. To interpret through observations made in the field and laboratory results the history and processes that lead to the sources of Arsenic pollution in this region.

1.4 Significance Of Study

The findings of this study will aid in making existing education programs more effective and in reducing the risk of developing Arsenic-related illnesses. Also, it will assist policy makers in considering the effectiveness of current education efforts and in crafting future public awareness campaigns of Arsenic risks.

1.5 Scope Of Study

An extract of Onitsha map was made from the Google Earth (map). The map covers Onitsha North and South Local Government Area, Okpoko in Ogbaru Local Government Area and part of Obosi and Nkpor, both in Idemili North Local Government Area.

Some of the boreholes from which water samples were collected are located in residential buildings, markets, churches and boreholes close to dump sites.

The study method employed was the direct observation, sampling and carrying out in-situ test right there in the field.

Chapter Five

5.0 Conclusion And Recommendation

5.1 Conclusion

Reliable monitoring and surveillance methods are essential for keeping close watch on the health of the environment. Some unacceptable results were recorded for heavy metal loads in the surface and subsurface water in the area. It is obvious that if the rate of pollution is not abated, common health problems which are already found in at Onitsha would increase. The introduction of modern, sensitive and more reliable methods for testing drinking water for physical, chemical and biological parameters should be explored.

More intense training of health experts in the area in water pollution is a sine qua non. There are enough unpolluted ground water resources to satisfy the needs of the society and these could be exploited while effluents from various sources should be treated before discharge.

5.2 Recommendation

Based on the findings of the study, it is recommended that the proper monitoring of industries through environmental impact assessment and environmental audit reports should be enforced by the Ministry of Environment in Anambra State. Information on increasing presence of heavy metals and their affect on health should be disseminated to various stakeholders, including researchers, policy makers, politicians, and donor agencies.

Arsenic Pollution Of The Subsurface Water

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Arsenic Pollution Of The Subsurface Water


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