Assessment of Zn, Cu, Pb and Ni contamination in wetland soils and plants in the lake basin
The impact of waste disposal on trace metal contamination was investigated in eleven wetlands in the Lake Victoria Basin. Samples of soil, water and plants were analysed for total Zn, Cu, Pb and Ni concentrations using flame atomic absorption spectrophotometry. The trace metal concentrations in soil were the highest in Katanga wetland with the highest mean concentrations of 387.5±86.5 mg/kg Zn, 171.5±36.2 mg/kg Pb, 51.20±6.69 mg/kg Cu and 21.33±2.23 mg/kg Ni compared to the lowest levels observed at Butabika (30.7±3.2 mg/kg Zn, 15.3±1.7 mg/kg Pb, 12.77±1.35 mg/kg Cu and 6.97±1.49 mg/kg Ni). Katanga receives waste from multiple industrial sources including a major referral city hospital while Butabika is a former solid waste dumpsite. Wetland soil near a copper smelter had a Cu concentration of 5936.3±56.2 mg/kg. Trace metal concentrations in industrial effluents were above international limits for irrigation water with the highest concentrations of 357,000 ìg/L Cu and 1480 ìg/L Zn at a Cu smelter and 5600 ìg/L Pb at a battery assembling facility compared to the lowest of 50 ìg/L Cu and 50 ìg/L Zn in water discharged from Wakaliga dumpsite. Uptake of trace metals from soil differed from plant to plant and site to site. Higher levels of trace metals accumulated in the root rather than in the rhizome and the least amount was in the leaf. The study identifies industry as a potential source of trace metal contamination of water and the environment pent-up need for policy intervention in industrial waste management .