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Potential Groundwater Pollution Risks by Heavy Metals from ... Potential Groundwater Pollution Risks by Heavy Metals from Agricultural Soil in Songon Area (Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire)

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  • Journal of Environmental Protection, 2013, 4, 1441-1448 Published Online December 2013 (

    Open Access JEP


    Potential Groundwater Pollution Risks by Heavy Metals from Agricultural Soil in Songon Area (Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire)

    Innocent K. Kouamé1,2*, Lazare K. Kouassi3, Brou Dibi3, Kouamé M. Adou1, Ioan D. Rascanu4, Gheorghe Romanescu2, Issiaka Savané1, Ion Sandu2

    1Laboratoire de Géosciences et Environnement, Université Nangui Abrogoua, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire; 2Alexandru Ioan Cuza Univer- sity, ARHEOINVEST Interdisciplinary Platform, Scientific Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage Laboratory, Iasi, Roma- nia; 3Université Jean Lorougnon Guédé, Daloa, Côte d’Ivoire; 4Romanian Waters, National Administration Prut-Barlad Water Branch, Iasi, Romania. Email: *[email protected] Received August 28th, 2013; revised September 27th, 2013; accepted October 25th, 2013 Copyright © 2013 Innocent K. Kouamé et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution Li- cense, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. In accordance of the Creative Commons Attribution License all Copyrights © 2013 are reserved for SCIRP and the owner of the intel- lectual property Innocent K. Kouamé et al. All Copyright © 2013 are guarded by law and by SCIRP as a guardian.

    ABSTRACT The soil samples were collected taking into account the land use in Songon area. The hydraulic conductivity (K) of soils was characterized in-situ when specific yield (Sy), pHw and concentrations of Cooper, Iron, Zinc, Cadmium, Chro- mium and Lead were measured in the laboratory. Pollution load indices (PLI) were calculated to evaluate the soil con- tamination levels. The soils were neutral and alkaline (6.7≤ pH ≤ 9.20), permeable (1.9  10−5 m·s−1 ≤ K ≤ 8.2  10−4 m·s−1), with a high specific yield (13.33% ≤ Sy ≤ 33.33%) which can favor the pollutants transfer. The heavy metals (Fe, Cu, Zn, Cd, Cr and Pb) have very high concentrations in soils. The integrated pollution indices (PLI) indicate that al- most 70% of Songon soils are moderately contaminated by the investigated heavy metals, with windows presenting high indices of pollution related to the intensive use of fertilizers and pesticides. The establishment of new boreholes in the Songon area should consider these heavy metals, so as to avoid the risk of groundwater pollution due to the physical properties of soils. Keywords: Songon; Soil; Heavy Metals; Pollution Indices; Groundwater Pollution Risk; Abidjan

    1. Introduction In areas of intensive agricultural activity, the pollution of groundwater is a consequence of farming practices using large quantities of fertilizers and pesticides [1,2]. The impact of these practices on the groundwater pollution was demonstrated all over the world [3,4]. These studies reported that excessive fertilization increases nitrate, phos- phorus, potassium and also heavy metals concentrations in groundwater.

    Because they generally contribute low concentrations in groundwater pollution, heavy metals from agricultural soils have traditionally been neglected when conducting risk assessment [3]. However, environmental problems due to long-term accumulation of heavy metals in agri-

    cultural regions have increased in recent years [5,6]. Groundwater pollution by heavy metals mostly comes from agricultural activities like sewage sludge or fertil- izer spreading [7], particularly for cadmium (Cd), copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) [8]. Some other studies indicate high- er concentrations in agricultural soils than in “natural” soils [7,9,10], depending on the nature and the duration of the agricultural practices. Increased metal concentra- tions in the soil pose a serious and current concern for governmental and regulatory bodies for environmental and human risk assessment [11]. Metals present a risk for human health because they are non-degradable pollutants, having a large spectrum of effects (e.g., nervous or di- gestive system disturbances and carcinogenic effects), especially for young children who are more sensitive than adults [12]. *Corresponding author.

  • Potential Groundwater Pollution Risks by Heavy Metals from Agricultural Soil in Songon Area (Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire)

    Open Access JEP


    Once groundwater is contaminated by heavy metals, it is difficult to remediate, thus the prevention of contami- nation is the primary strategy to protect groundwater resources [13]. So, to prevent groundwater contamination and preserve population health, studies are often per- formed on pollution sources, in particular on agricultural soils to know their contamination level by heavy metals that can be transferred into groundwater.

    Abidjan is the economic capital of Côte d’Ivoire. Since the 1970s, more than 90 wells grouped in 10 well fields have been made by the government to satisfy the water needs of the city with about 1 million inhabitants. With an annual growth rate of 3.9%, Abidjan city has now more than 5 million inhabitants and the quantity of pro- duced water has become insufficient to satisfy the water needs estimated at more than 132 million m3. In addition, nitrate and chlorides pollution led to the abandonment in 2001 of a well field of 8 wells thus reducing the ability of managers to provide water to the population. This situa- tion now gives rise to repeatedly water shortages in the city and its surroundings.

    To find a solution to this problem, the water resource managers of Côte d’Ivoire, plan to create a groundwater field of 10 boreholes in the Songon area, which located on the western peri-urban zone of Abidjan city. This de- cision raises suspicions about the quality of water that will be served to the population. Indeed, for over 30 years, large agricultural plantations of rubber, banana and palm trees were created in the Songon area. To improve plant protection and production, pesticides and fertilizers were used in different plantations. Until now, no study has been conducted in this area for assessing the environ- mental losses of fertilizers and pesticides in soil and groundwater. But [14] used DRASTIC-LU method and showed that 84% of the Songon area presented a high vulnerability to pollution because the groundwater was at shallow depths often less than 15 m. Thus, the knowl- edge of the agricultural activities impact on the quality of soil and groundwater should be a good indicator for sus- tainable implantation of well field in the Songon area.

    The present study aims to 1) determine the hydraulic properties of Songon soils that favor pollutants migration, 2) assess the level of soil contamination by heavy metals, and 3) determine the indices of pollution distribution in Songon soil.

    2. Materials and Methods 2.1. Study Area The study area is the Songon city (Figure 1), in the western part of the Abidjan city, between 356,000 and 374,000 m Eastern longitude and between 584,000 and 599,000 m Northern latitude of the UTM referential Zone 30. It covers an area of approximately 120 km2 and is

    bordered to the south by the Ebrie lagoon. The geology of the area is usually the coastal sedimentary basin in Abidjan. The predominant lithology is the sedimentary formations made from top to bottom of clayey sands, average sands and coarse sands resting on a granitic and schistous base [15]. The climate is humid subtropical with two rainy seasons (April-July and October-Novem- ber) and two dry seasons (August-September and De- cember-March). The rains are consistent during rainy seasons (150 - 450 mm per month) and low during the dry seasons (32 - 100 mm per month). Temperatures range generally between 22˚C and 29˚C.

    2.2. Soil Sampling The soil sampling sites were positioned taking into ac- count the land use in the study area. Geographical co- ordinates were taken at each sampling site using a GPS Garmin E-Trex. Samples were preferentially carried out in the plantations of rubber, banana, casava and palm trees, and also in some animal farms and in some villages where there is no planting.

    The soil samples were taken with an auger to a depth of 40 cm representing the topsoil. The samples were pre- served in labeled bags. Finally, a total of 22 soil sam- ples were collected for analysis during April-May 2010 (Table 1).

    2.3. Soil Physical Properties Characterization 2.3.1. Specific Yield The specific yield (Sy) reflects the degree of voids inter- connection in the aquifer and in which the water is re- leased by gravity. It is expressed by Equation (1) [16]:

    d y


    V S

    V  (1)

    where Vd is the volume of gravity water that a soil can hold in the saturated state and then released as a result of a complete drainage to its total volume (Vt).

    In the study area, the soil samples were weighed into gauged plastic containers. Volumes of water were added into containers until the soil was saturated. After 48 hours of draining, the water volumes collected at the samples were determined. These volumes were used to calculate specific yields.

    2.3.2. Hydraulic Conductivity In-situ, the method of double rings infiltrability [17] was used to investigate the spatial distribution of soil hydrau- lic conductivity in the study area. This method