Soil, water and tissue heavy metal of communal sheep and the possible public health implications around the potentially polluted area of Khutsong, South Africa
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The present study was carried out to determine the levels of heavy metals, Arsenic (As), Chromium (Cr), Cadmium (Cd) and Lead (Pb) in samples of water, sediments, and specimens from sheep known to graze and drink from Wonderfontein stream around the Khutsong area in the North West Province of South Africa. Determination of heavy metal levels was carried out using Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer. Abundance of metals in water samples followed the trend As>Pb>Cd>Cr, while that in sediments followed the trend: Pb>As>Cr>Cd. Faecal levels were highest for Cr, followed by Cd, As then Pb, while serum levels were highest for As, Cd Cr and then Pb. The metal concentration in liver, kidney and muscle showed the following trends respectively: As>Cd>Cr>Pb ; As>Pb>Cd>Pb and As>Cd >Cr> Pb. The liver, kidney and muscle samples had higher concentration of As compared to other heavy metals. Generally, most samples showed a higher concentration in As. The mean concentrations of heavy metals in ppm were compared with European Commission Regulation, World Health Organisation, Korean Soil Environmental Conservation Act and the Australian New Zealand Food Standards maximum acceptable levels. The metal levels generally tended to be higher than the permissible levels and thus, public health risks. A survey conducted also revealed that the community in Khutsong does not have the knowledge on environmental contamination due to mining effluents and the effects thereof. The varying levels of water and sheep specimen contamination with As, Cd, Cr and Pb revealed in this study imply public health risks. Further biomonitoring, public and animal health studies are therefore indicated in this area.