Lives at risk over heavy metal pollution of Abereke River in Ilaje community

Consumption of fishes and other aquatic organisms from Abereke River in Ilaje, Ondo State in the Niger Delta region may be unsafe because the river is polluted with heavy metals and some other contaminants.

This revelation is part of the outcome of a research work led by Oluwatosin Arojojoye, an Associate Professor and Head of Department of Biochemistry, Lead City University in conjunction with Gbemisola Ogundeyi and Esther Akinola evaluated the pollution status of Abereke River, a major River in Ilaje community; an oil producing area in Ondo State, Nigeria.

The pollution of the river and the aquatic life in it has been attributed to petroleum exploration in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria which has compromised the aquatic environment with grave consequences on the entire ecosystem.

In the study, “levels of heavy metals (lead, cadmium, copper, arsenite, nickel) and some markers of oxidative stress (malondialdehyde, reduced glutathione, Glutathione-S-transferase, superoxide dismutase, catalase) were determined in the liver and muscle of Clariasgariepinus from Abereke River and also in Clariasgariepinus from a clean fish farm (Ilesanmi Fishery) which served as the control.

“Water samples from both Rivers were also analysed for some physicochemical parameters, heavy metals and bacterial contamination.

“From the results, there was significant increase in the levels of heavy metals (lead, cadmium, copper, arsenite, nickel) in water sample as well as in the liver and muscle of Clariasgariepinus from Abereke River when compared with control samples.

“A significant increase in malondialdehyde (an index of lipid peroxidation) level and alterations in antioxidant status were also observed in the liver and muscle of fish samples from Abereke River compared with control. Furthermore, total suspended solids (TSS), total dissolved solids (TDS) and total hardness of water sample from Abereke River were significantly higher than that of the control. Coliforms and salmonella were also visible in Abereke water sample but were not found in the control water sample.

“The results of this study show that fish samples from Abereke River were under oxidative stress due to exposure to heavy metals and other pollutants in the River as a result of oil spill related pollution in the Niger Delta region where the river is located.”

This raises health concerns as people in Ilaje community consume fishes and other aquatic organisms from the river and also use water from the river for domestic purposes.

It is clear that the community which depends on this river for water supply and nutrition are at risk, and the relevant state and federal authorities must take action.

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