Science

Startling Finding: The Majority of Nigerian Drinking Water Is Contaminated With Microplastics

Water Child Africa

Plastic fragments were found in drinking water at all 11 locations investigated in Lagos Island, Nigeria.

A new study investigates whether microplastics are pervasive in Nigerian drinking water

About 90% of the drinking water in Nigeria comes from boreholes, which are deep, narrow wells that draw on naturally existing subsurface water. Microplastics are widely present in the drinking water of these boreholes, according to new research that was published on May 18 in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

At all 11 sites surveyed on Lagos Island, an area of the city of Lagos, Nigeria, microplastics — fragments of any sort of plastic smaller than 5 mm in length — were discovered in borehole water and sediments. Lagos is the largest city in Nigeria with an estimated population of over 15.3 million. Microplastic levels were greater in regions with strong industrial activity than in areas with low industrial activity and lower population densities.

“The rate of degradation of these polymers is exceedingly low (depending on the environmental conditions and MP type), which will result in the increased accumulation of these MPs in the borehole drinking water with time,” the authors wrote. “The risks associated with MPs are predominantly caused by the combination of these materials’ persistence and their potential accumulation in food chains.”

Reference: “Occurrence of Microplastics in Borehole Drinking Water and Sediments in Lagos, Nigeria” by Babalola Aisosa Oni and Samuel Eshorame Sanni, 18 May 2022, Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry.
DOI: 10.1002/etc.5350

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