Heavy Metal Pollution in Soils near Ilesha Gold Mining Area, Nigeria

Aruna Olasekan Adekiya1, *, Adedeji Oloruntoba2, Babatunde Sunday Ewulo2, Timothy Ogunbode1, Titilayo Sangoyomi1
1 Agriculture Programme, College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, Bowen University, Iwo, Nigeria
2 Department of Crop, Soil and Pest Management, Federal University of Technology, PMB 704, Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria

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© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Agriculture Programme, College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, Bowen University, Iwo, Nigeria; E-mail:



The discovery of extensive gold deposits has raised concerns about potential heavy metal contamination in waterways and adjacent soils, particularly in developing nations like Nigeria where environmental regulations may not be stringent enough.


A research study was conducted to assess the levels of heavy metals in surface soils (0 to 25 cm deep) across 30 sites within three selected areas (Epe, Igun, and Ijana) located in the gold mining region of Ilesha, Osun State Nigeria.


The study employed an atomic absorption spectrophotometer to measure the total concentrations of heavy metals, specifically arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), cobalt (Co), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), nickel (Ni), lead (Pb), and zinc (Zn). Furthermore, the research encompassed an examination of various physicochemical properties of the soil samples, including organic matter content, pH levels, organic carbon content, calcium content, phosphorus levels, cation exchange capacity, and particle size distribution.


Results showed a range mean concentration with standard deviation of As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn of 1.0 – 7.1 ± 1.77 mg kg-1, 0.9 – 4.2 ± 0.84 mg kg-1, 1.0 – 6.0 ± 1.29 mg kg-1, 1.1 – 6.4 ± 1.57 mg kg-1, 2.90 – 20.9± 4.00 mg kg-1, 1.1 – 6.4 ±1.56 mg kg-1, 0.7 – 6.7 ±1.26 mg kg-1 and 11.7 – 70.7± 17.75 mg kg-1, respectively. The investigation of soils in three specific locations revealed significant contamination by heavy metals. However, it is worth noting that the concentrations of these metals fell below the established intervention levels outlined by environmental protection agencies such as the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization. The distribution of heavy metals and their availability exhibited a direct correlation with the distance from the mining sites, spanning from 0 to 900 meters. Two critical factors influencing the concentration of heavy metals in these areas were identified as soil particle size, specifically the clay percentage, and pH levels.


Despite the presence of heavy metal pollution in the soils of Epe, Igun, and Ijana, they managed to maintain metal levels below the intervention thresholds set by environmental protection agencies, with the exception of cadmium (Cd).

Keywords: Heavy metals, Pollution, Soil, Cd, Particle size distribution, Gold mining.