Rapid urbanization and industrialization in communities of Nigeria contribute significantly to environmental pollution. Amongst the diversity of these environmental contaminants are heavy metals, a rarely biodegradable and toxic class of metals. Heavy metals are known to be harmful to plants, aquatic species, and subsequently endanger human health through bioaccumulation or biomagnification. Even at low concentrations, heavy metals may affect key soil microbial processes; inhibit plant metabolism and growth. Toxic metals in groundwater affect water quality and potability, and their presence in aquatic systems also facilitate the production of reactive oxygen species that can damage physiological processes in fishes and other aquatic organisms. This chapter highlights the occurrence and impact of heavy metals in different environmental matrices and organisms sampled across some Southwestern states in Nigeria. Various studies including those of the authors found varying levels of heavy metals, especially in concentrations that can imperil ecosystem functions. While results of studies included in this chapter may suggest heavy metal introduction through anthropogenic-urbanization means, the lack of proper implementation of environmental monitoring laws in Nigeria also clearly exist. As such, the mitigation of heavy metals amongst other pollutants demands better home-grown decentralized technologies.
Part of the book: Heavy Metals