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PROJECT TOPIC- EVALUATE THE PREVALENCE OF HEAVY METALS IN SOME SELECTED CROPS (BANANA (MUSAACUMINATA), LOCAL PEAR (DACRYODESEDULIS), GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLE (TELFAIRIAOCCIDENTALIS) AND OKRA (ABELMOSCHUSESCULENTUS)) IN ENYIGBA, ABAKALIKI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE

PROJECT TOPIC- EVALUATE THE PREVALENCE OF HEAVY METALS IN SOME SELECTED CROPS (BANANA (MUSAACUMINATA), LOCAL PEAR (DACRYODESEDULIS), GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLE (TELFAIRIAOCCIDENTALIS) AND OKRA (ABELMOSCHUSESCULENTUS)) IN ENYIGBA, ABAKALIKI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE

CHAPTER 1

  • INTRODUCTION

Fruits are those portions of the plant that house seeds and generally eaten alone or as a dessert while vegetables are eaten with the main course of a meal. Fruits are grouped depending on their botanical structure, chemical composition and climatic requirement (such as berries, drupes, citrus pomes and tropical fruits) while vegetables are grouped according to the plant part they are derived from (such as roots, leaves and stem buds).

Fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin A, C, E, Selium, Calcium, sodium and potassium) and fiber (which assists digestion, slows carbohydrate absorption and promotes satiety) .fruits and vegetables can be eaten raw, prepared into a local dish (example, Afang soup) ,processed into fruit drinks(such as squash, nectar etc.) . Examples of fruits and vegetables cultivated in Enyigba are; local pear, okra, banana, African star apple, pumpkin leaf spinach leaf etc.

Heavy metals have been reported to have positive and negative roles in human life (Adriano, 1984; Slaveska et al., 1998; Divrikl iet al., 2003; Dundar and Saglam, 2004; Colak et al., 2005; Oktan et al., 2005). Some like cadmium, lead and mercury are major contaminants of food supply and may be considered the most important problem to our environment while others like iron, zinc and copper are essential for biochemical reactions in the body (Zaidi et al., 2005).

Generally, most heavy metals are not biodegradable, have long biological half-lives and have the potential for accumulation in the different body organs leading to unwanted side effects (Jarup, 2003; Sathawara et al., 2004). There is a strong link between micronutrient nutrition of plants, animals and humans and the uptake and impact of contaminants in these organisms (De Leonardis et al., 2000; Yuzbasi et al., 2003; Baslar et al., 2005; Yaman et al., 2005).

The content of essential elements in plants is conditional, the content being affected by the characteristics of the soil and the ability of plants to selectively accumulate some metals (Divrikli et al., 2006). Additional sources of heavy metals for plants are: rainfall in atmospheric polluted areas, traffic density, use of oil or fossil fuels, for heating, atmospheric dusts, plant protection agents and fertilizers which could be absorbed through leaf blades (Kovacheva et al., 2000; Lozak et al., 2002; Atrouse et al., 2004; Sobukola et al., 2008).

These plant materials could also be contaminated from various sources including trace metals as farmers wash them with waste water before bringing them into the market (Divrikli et al., 2006). Some of these elements are toxic to humans even at a very low level. Excessive content of Pb and Cd metals in food is associated with etiology of a number of diseases especially with cardiovascular, kidney, nervous as well as bone diseases (WHO, 1992, 1995; Steenland and Boffetta, 2000; Jarup, 2003).

They have also been implicated in causing carcinogenesis, mutagenesis and teratogenesis (IARC, 1993; Pitot and Dragan, 1996). Copper toxicity induces iron deficiency, lipid peroxidation and destruction of membranes (Zaidi et al., 2005). High level of Nickel may also result in Zn or Fe deficiency as well as enzymic malfunctioning (Jarup, 2003). Based on persistent nature and cumulative behaviour as well as the probability of potential toxicity effects of heavy metals as a result of consumption of leafy vegetables and fruits, there is need to test and analyze these food items to ensure that the levels of these trace elements meet the agreed international requirements. This is particularly important for farm products from this part of the world where only limited data on heavy metal contents of such highly consumed agricultural materials are available.

PROJECT TOPIC- EVALUATE THE PREVALENCE OF HEAVY METALS IN SOME SELECTED CROPS (BANANA (MUSAACUMINATA), LOCAL PEAR (DACRYODESEDULIS), GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLE (TELFAIRIAOCCIDENTALIS) AND OKRA (ABELMOSCHUSESCULENTUS)) IN ENYIGBA, ABAKALIKI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE

1.1       Problem Statement

Banana, Okra, Pumpkin leaf and Water are consumed in almost every house in Enyigba and communities around and are usually consumed in their raw state. Bearing in mind the probable toxicity and persistent nature of heavy metals, it is necessary to know whether this fruits and vegetables are fit for human consumption.

1.2       Justification

Mining activities takes place almost every day at the mining site in Enyigba community and crushed rocks containing heavy metals(such as Lead, Copper and Zinc) are absorbed by the crops grown around the mining site and the stream(which serves as main source of drinking water) is contaminated through flooding and wind blow. This events poses a threat to the health of the consumers who are ignorant of the dangers associated with consuming crops or drinking water sourced from or around the mining site and may not be able to seek proper medical attention .Also, the presence of these heavy metals in fruits and vegetables grown in Enyigba may affect the health of the state as most of this food items (Okro, Banana, and pumpkin leaf) are distributed and sold across neighbouring towns such as Abakaliki .the economic growth may also be affected as farming serves as their major source of income and abandoning their farm lands close to the mining site to prevent the consumption of contaminated food crops may be a difficult option .

This study will go a long way in providing a baseline data for the assessment of the distribution of heavy metals in fruits and vegetables in Enyigba and Nkwegu.

1.3       Objectives of the Study

The broad objective of this study will be to evaluate the prevalence of heavy metals in some selected crops (Banana (musaacuminata), local pear (dacryodesedulis), green leafy vegetable (telfairiaoccidentalis) and okra (abelmoschusesculentus)) in Enyigba, Abakaliki Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

1.4 Specific objectives

  • To determine the concentrations of Lead, Copper, and zinc in the vegetables and fruits obtained at Enyigba.
  • To determine the concentrations of Lead, Copper, and zinc in the vegetables and fruits obtained in Nkwegu.

1.5 Limitation of Study

The study was limited to these fruits and vegetables (Banana, okra and pumpkin leaf) due to their availability in Enyigba mining site and Nkwegu farm lands.

Also, the number metals determined were limited due to financial and health constraint as at the time of study.

PROJECT TOPIC- EVALUATE THE PREVALENCE OF HEAVY METALS IN SOME SELECTED CROPS (BANANA (MUSAACUMINATA), LOCAL PEAR (DACRYODESEDULIS), GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLE (TELFAIRIAOCCIDENTALIS) AND OKRA (ABELMOSCHUSESCULENTUS)) IN ENYIGBA, ABAKALIKI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE

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