Levels of Selected Heavy Metals in Sachet Water Samples Consumed in Nigeria

Assessment of Levels of Selected Heavy Metals in Sachet Water Samples Consumed in Nigeria- Case of Abakaliki, Ebonyi State



1.1       Background to the Study

Unavailability of good quality drinking water is wide spread and this has serious health implications. In developing nations of the world, 80 % of all diseases and over 30% of deaths are related to drinking water (Dada and Ntukekpo, 1997). According to Federal Ministry of Health statistics, only about 30 % of Nigerians have access to portable water while the United Nations estimated that about 1.2 billion people all over the world lack access to portable water (Oyeku et al., 2001; Ajewole, 2005).

Water is said to be portable when its physical, chemical and microbiological qualities conform to specified standards. To achieve such standards, raw water is subjected to purification processes that range from simple long-term storage to enable sedimentation of some suspended solids to aeration, coagulation, flocculation, filtration and disinfection among other treatments (Ajewole, 2005). Sources of water are many and varied, the levels of contamination also vary, and consequently a high degree of public health hazard can be associated with drinking water. The implication therefore, is that any drinking water sold to the public must be made wholesomely and must meet WHO standards (Oyeku et al., 2001).

Unfortunately, the quality of water sold to the public in many places in Nigeria may not be said to be wholesome (Mendie, 2004). According to the Institute of Public Health Analyst (IPAN), 50 % of the “sachet water” sold in the streets of Lagos may not be fit for human consumption (Osibanjo et al., 2000). The possibility that the same situation may be applicable to other cities in the country prompted this work.

Sachet water is any commercially treated water, manufactured, packaged and distributed for sale in sealed food grade containers and is intended for human consumption (Osibanjo et al., 2000).  Consumption of sachet water in Nigeria is on the increase irrespective of whether they have NAFDAC certification or not. However, despite the strong effort by NAFDAC in the regulation and quality assessment of sachet water, there are a growing number of reported public illnesses after drinking sachet water.  A study conducted in Abakaliki identified the presence of a multi drug resistant coliform present in four water sample and there are also a number of reported cases of typhoid, diarrhea and other water borne diseases arising from consumption of sachet water (Okafor, et al; 2015; Ogamba, 2004).

There are now several brands of these type of packaged water marketed in Nigeria and other developing nations (Ogan, 1992; Kassenga, 2007). Water in sachets is readily available and the price is affordable, but there are concerns about its purity. The integrity of the hygienic environment and the conditions where the majority of the water in sachets are produced has also been questioned by Consumer Affairs Movement of Nigeria (CAMON, 2004). Although nationally documented evidence is rare, there are claims of past outbreaks of water-borne illnesses that resulted from consumption of polluted water in sachets (CAMON, 2007). The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) is mandated to enforce compliance with internationally defined drinking water guidelines, but regulation of the packaged water industry aimed at good quality assurance has remained a challenge to the agency (CAMON, 2007). To control the menace of polluted water in sachets, NAFDAC declared a possible ‘gradual’ nationwide ban on sachet waters to allow the manufacturers of sachet water to start winding-down or change to bottle packaging (CAMON, 2004).

1.2       Statement of the Research Problem

The important of water especially for drinking cannot be over-emphasized. Due to some inherent problems with borehole water in Abakaliki such as high hardness, odour, taste and salinity, greater number of people living in the area now resort to drinking of sachet water, often times, the quality of this sachet water in usually ignored by the consumers in the believe that they are wholesome and potable. In this research, some selected sachet water sold within Abakaliki town have been assayed for some toxic heavy metal as part of the quality evaluation process to ascertain their portability or otherwise.

1.3       Objective of the Study

            The objective of this work is to assess the presence and determine the concentration level of some selected heavy metals (Fe, Mn, Zn, Ni and Pb) in three sachet water samples that are widely consumed in Abakaliki metropolis and to compare their concentration with WHO permissible limit for such metal in drinking water in order to ascertain their implication.

1.4       Scope and Limitations of the Study

            In this research works three water samples comprise Aqua rapha drinking water; Rock Tama spring water and UCC table water were randomly collected from different vendor in Abakaliki area, and were analyzed to determine the level of heavy metals in them that would be in conformity with WHO standard level for portable water. However, the unavailability of any functional sachet water factory in Abakaliki made it in impossible for many samples to be analyzed hence, the three available samples that were assayed.



2.1       Drinking Water Supply Status in Nigeria

Water is a transparent and nearly colourless chemical substance that is the main constituent of need of all life on earth, and is an essential component for all forms of lives, from microorganisms to man (Priyanka et al., 2010). It is an essential substance for the maintenance of all life processes. It is abundant in nature, yet most people lack adequate and safe drinking water due to increase in human population, coupled with human activities which lead to pollution of drinking water sources and failure from government to provide potable water to its citizens, more especially in developing countries. Water is indispensible for life, since it is essential part of human nutrition and it is also required for maintenance of personal hygiene, food production and prevention of diseases (Adenkunle et al., 2004, Oparaocha et al., 2010, Edema et al., 2011, Adegoke et al., 2012).

The human body contains from 55 % to 78 % water, depending on body size to function well the body requires 7 liters of water per day to avoid dehydration; temperature, humidity, and other factors determine the rate of water consumption per day. Three major sources of drinking water are ground water, surface water and rain water. Surface fresh water is widely used as source of drinking water worldwide (CAWST, 2009). Of particular concern among people without access to improved drinking water sources are those who rely on surface water sources, such sources include rivers, dams, lakes, ponds and canals, and are often the most susceptible to pollution and most likely to have poor water quality (CAWST, 2009). Since 1990, use of surface water sources has decreased significantly and accounts for only a small proportion of drinking water sources in most regions where only 2% of the rural population in Southern Asia while in sub-Saharan African 20 % of rural dwellers still rely on surface water sources (WHO, 2011). Surface water is generally unsafe to drink without treatment (CAWST, 2009). Nigeria has adequate surface and ground water resources to meet current demands for potable water but variation in geographical climatic condition has lead to scarcity in some locations especially in the north (USAID, 1990). The government held the role of provision of water and sanitation services to its citizens but after fifty-six years of water supply development in Nigeria, it is regrettable that only few number of the population has no access to safe drinking water (FMWR, 2000).


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