Fate and partitioning of heavy metals in soils from landfill sites in Cape Town, South Africa: a health risk approach to data interpretation

  • Adelaja Osibote
  • Ogheneochuko OputuEmail author
Original Paper


The fate and persistence of trace metals in soils and sludge from landfill sites are crucial in determining the hazard posed by landfill, techniques for their restoration and potential reuse purposes of landfill sites after closure and restoration. A modified European Community Bureau of Reference’s (BCR) sequential extraction procedure was applied for partitioning and evaluating the mobility and persistence of trace metals (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, Sb, Se, Zn) in soils from three landfill sites and sludge sample from Cape Town, South Africa. Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy was used to analyze BCR extracts. The mobility sequence based on the BCR mobile fraction showed that Cu (74–87%), Pb (65–80%), Zn (59–82%) and Cd (55–66%) constituted the mobile metals in the soils from the three sites. The mobility of Cu, Zn and Ni (> 95%) was particularly high in the sludge sample, which showed significant enrichment compared to the soil samples. Geo-accumulation index (Igeo) and risk assessment code were used to further assess the environmental risk of the metals in the soils. Exposure to the soils and sludge did not pose any non-cancer risks to adult and children as the hazard quotient and hazard index values were all below the safe level of 1. The cancer risks from Cd, Cr and Ni require that remedial action be considered during closure and restoration of the landfill sites.


Landfill site Heavy metal Health risk assessment ICP-OES Fate Partitioning Metal mobility 



The authors wish to thank Andrew Rand and Oddette Sharon Kuissu Tokam of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Studies, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, for providing the GIS map used for manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mathematics and PhysicsCape Peninsula University of TechnologyCape TownSouth Africa
  2. 2.Flow Process and Rheology CenterCape Peninsula University of TechnologyCape TownSouth Africa

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