Mobility, spatial variation and human health risk assessment of mercury in soil from an informal e-waste recycling site, Lagos, Nigeria

Anselm, Oluwaseun H. and Cavoura, Olga and Davidson, Christine M. and Oluseyi, Temilola O. and Oyeyiola, Aderonke O. and Togias, Konstantinos (2021) Mobility, spatial variation and human health risk assessment of mercury in soil from an informal e-waste recycling site, Lagos, Nigeria. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 193 (7). 416. ISSN 0167-6369 (

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Spatial variations and mobility of mercury (Hg) and Hg associations with other potentially toxic elements (PTEs) were studied in soil samples from Alaba, the largest e-waste recycling site in Nigeria and West Africa. Total Hg concentration was determined in surface soil samples from various locations using cold vapour atomic absorption spectrometry (CVAAS) following microwave-assisted acid extraction, while sequential extraction was used to determine operationally defined mobility. The concentrations of the PTEs arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), manganese (Mn), mercury (Hg), nickel (Ni), lead (Pb) and zinc (Zn) metals were determined using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) following microwave-assisted digestion with aqua regia. Total Hg concentration ranged from < 0.07 to 624 mg/kg and was largely dependent on the nature and intensity of e-waste recycling activities carried out. Mobile forms of Hg, which may be HgO (a known component of some forms of e-waste), accounted for between 3.2 and 23% of the total Hg concentration, and were observed to decrease with increasing organic matter (OM). Non-mobile forms accounted for >74% of the total Hg content. In the main recycling area, soil concentrations of Cd, Cd, Cu, Hg, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn were above soil guideline values (Environment Agency in Science Report, 2009; Kamunda et al., 2016). Strong associations were observed between Hg and other PTEs (except for Fe and Zn) with the correlational coefficient ranging from 0.731 with Cr to 0.990 with As in April, but these correlations decreased in June except for Fe. Hazard quotient values > 1 at two locations suggest that Hg may pose health threats to people working at the e-waste recycling site. It is therefore recommended that workers should be investigated for symptoms of Hg exposure.


Anselm, Oluwaseun H., Cavoura, Olga, Davidson, Christine M. ORCID logoORCID:, Oluseyi, Temilola O., Oyeyiola, Aderonke O. and Togias, Konstantinos;