MICROBIOLOGICAL AND HEAVY METAL CHARACTERIZATION OF SOIL FROM AN OPEN HOSPITAL WASTES DUMPSITE IN ENUGU, NIGERIAEZE CHUKWUEBUKA THANK GOD AND AMAEZE NNAMDI HENRY
The dumping of hospital wastes on the soil environment could be a channel for the spread of diseases and epidemic at large. Therefore, the study was aimed at assessing the infection and hazard potentials of soil from an open hospital wastes dumpsite in Enugu, Nigeria. Composite soil samples were collected from the inner part of the hospitals dumpsite as well as adjacent area of the dumpsite at a distance of 100m (control site). The microbial loads and heavy metal (As, Cd, Pb, Hg and Cr) concentrations of the collected soil samples were assessed. The result of the microbiological analyses of the soil from the inner part of the dumpsite showed a mean total aerobic bacteria count of 5.4 ± 0.98 × 109 cfu/g, mean total anaerobic bacteria count of 3.6 ± 0.49 × 107cfu/g and mean total fungal count of 3.8 ± 0.82 × 105 cfu/g while microbiological analyses of soil from the adjacent area of the dumpsite showed a mean total aerobic bacteria count of 4.7 ± 0.82 × 108cfu/g, mean total anaerobic bacteria count of 2.8 ± 0.33 × 106 cfu/g and mean total fungal count of 1.5 ± 0.49 × 105 cfu/g. The isolated and characterized microorganisms observed included both pathogenic and non-pathogenic organisms. The varying concentrations of the detected heavy metal were generally higher in the dumpsite soil than adjacent (control) soil, except for Cr+6. The obtained concentrations of these metals however were within the WHO permissible limits. Given that these metals are continuously accumulated in the soil, exposed living organisms are likely to suffer some degree of toxicity when their respective tolerance threshold is exceeded. The findings from this study resounds the need for a coordinated waste management system in the country, especially for those generated in hospitals which may pose various environmental health hazards.
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