CC-BY 4.0

Potential ecological risk assessment of a stream in Shamva, Zimbabwe

Artwell Kanda 1  ,  
France Ncube 1,  
Bindura University of Science Education, BUSE, P. Bag 1020, +263 Bindura, Zimbabwe
Environ. Earth Ecol. 2017;1(1):67-80
Water bodies are the final sinks of all pollution with more than 90% of contaminants found in suspended particulates and bottom sediments. Only less than 10% is retained in the water column yet it attracts and receives great research attention. The pollution status and the potential ecological risk of three pools of water along a stream due to heavy metal enrichment from a nearby active gold mining tailings dam were assessed. The upstream-downstream and sedimentological approaches to ecosystem health assessment were used. Potential uses of pool water were also evaluated based on measured water quality parameters. Heavy metals in water and sediment were determined using Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrometry. Results revealed that salinisation, acidification and heavy metals were exported from a mining tailings dam to the stream. The degree of contamination of pool water by heavy metals dictated water uses. Heavy metal concentrations imposed water use restrictions for aquatic life in a pool which directly received discharge from the mine tailings dam. The average heavy metal concentrations in sediments were lower than the standard shale values. Sediment quality guidelines and pollution indices showed that the stream was not polluted with heavy metals, thus posed no potential ecological risk. Continuous monitoring of tailings discharge and wash off is important to safeguard aquatic ecosystem and public health.
Corresponding author
Artwell Kanda   
Bindura University of Science Education, BUSE, P. Bag 1020, +263 Bindura, Zimbabwe
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