Evaluation of human health and ecological risk of heavy metals in water, sediment and shellfishes in typical artisanal oil mining areas of Nigeria

Davies Ibienebo Chris, Amarachi Paschaline Onyena, Kabari Sam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Heavy metal contamination in water and sediment is a serious concern in nations that depend heavily on natural resources such as Nigeria. In most coastal communities around oil mining areas in Nigeria, drinking water quality, staple food, and livelihoods are primarily dependent on ecological systems and marine resources (e.g., fish). Thus, humans and other receptors are exposed to heavy metal risks through ingestion and dermal contact. This research evaluated the potential ecological risks of heavy metals including Cadmium (Cd), Chromium (Cr), Nickel (Ni), and Lead (Pb) in water, sediments, and shellfishes (Callinectes amnicola, Uca tangeri, Tympanotonus fuscatus, Peneaus monodon) along the Opuroama Creek in Niger Delta, Nigeria. The concentrations of heavy metals were measured in three stations using the Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer and their relative ecological (geo-accumulation index and contamination factor) and human health risk (hazard index and hazard quotient) analysed. The toxicity response indices of the heavy metals indicate that the sediments pose significant ecological risk particularly with Cd. None of the three exposure pathways to heavy metals in the shellfish muscles and age groups pose a non-carcinogenic risk. Total Cancer Risk values for Cd and Cr exceeded the acceptable range (10−6 to 10−4) established by USEPA in children and adults, raising concerns of potential cancer risks following exposure to these metals in the area. This established a significant possibility of heavy metal risks to public health and marine organisms. The study recommends conducting in-depth health analysis and reducing oil spills while providing sustainable livelihoods to the local population.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Early online date8 Jun 2023
Publication statusEarly online - 8 Jun 2023


  • Geo-accumulation index
  • Contamination factor
  • Hazard index
  • Shellfshes
  • Niger Delta

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