Heavy metal contamination of soil and sediment in Zambia
Heavy metal pollution is one of the most important problems in Zambia and causes serious effects to humans and animals. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the spatial distribution of heavy metals in main areas of Zambia and understand the characteristics of the pollution in each area. River and lake sediments and soil samples were collected from a large area of Zambia and analyzed for ten heavy metals (Cr, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Cd, Pb, Sr and Hg). The results indicate that heavy metal pollution in Zambia has strong regional differences. Using cluster analysis, the patterns of heavy metal pollution were divided into three major clusters: (1) Kabwe, (2) Copperbelt and (3) Lusaka and other areas. Heavy metals in the Copperbelt area are transported to downstream areas by the Kafue River. Pollution was also detected in national parks, and Lake Itezhi-tezhi has been polluted with high concentrations of Cu, possibly from mining activities in the upper reaches of the river. However, areas geographically distant from mining beds had only moderate or low heavy metal concentrations, although the concentrations of Pb and Zn were highly correlated with the populations of each town. Our findings indicate that heavy metal pollution in Zambia is still increasing, due to human activities, especially mining.
Key words: Heavy metal, contamination, mining, soil, sediment.