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Analysis of Moss and Topsoil to Monitor Metal Emissions from a Pulp and Paper Mill in Western Kenya


The mean concentrations of Zn, Cu, Cd, Cr and Fe in mosses around Webuye Pan Paper factory were found to be significantly higher than in controls taken from Kakamega, indicating atmospheric contribution from the anthropogenic activities within the factory, shown within a radius of 1 km around the factory. The mean concentrations (μg/g dry weight) in the mosses ranged from 60.9–124.5, 22.6–34.2, 13.3–14.7, 20.1–33.3 and 1,822.4–2,079.2, respectively. The mean concentrations of Pb in mosses sampled from the eastern and western side of the factory were also significantly higher than in controls. The mean concentrations of Zn, Cu, Cd, Cr, Pb and Fe in topsoil samples ranged from 7 (Pb)–2,310 (Fe) mg/kg dry wt, depending on sample means based on site direction, distance from the factory and season. There was no clear variation in metal concentrations in mosses and topsoils with direction from the factory which was consistent with the observed fluctuations in wind direction which changed from south-west in the mornings to north and south-west in the afternoons during sampling.

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We thank all technical staff of Chemistry Department, Maseno University for their help during analysis and Eric and Fwuko’s family, respectively, for assistance during sampling at Webuye. We also thank the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for a visiting fellowship at Bayreuth granted to J.O. Lalah which enabled the preparation of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Joseph O. Lalah.

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Adoli, F.K.L., Lalah, J.O. & Okoth, A.O. Analysis of Moss and Topsoil to Monitor Metal Emissions from a Pulp and Paper Mill in Western Kenya. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 86, 137–143 (2011).

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  • Heavy metals
  • Factory emissions
  • Moss
  • Surface soil