Public health challenges as a result of contaminated water sources in Kumba, Cameroon

Abstract

Kumba, the largest city in the Southwest Region of Cameroon, is characterized by the prevalence of waterborne diseases due to ingestion of contaminated water. Sixty-four water samples were collected from different sources including pipe-borne (PW), surface/stream (SW) and groundwater (HDW) sources as well as the catchment area (CW) in Kumba metropolis. These water samples were analyzed for physicochemical and microbiological parameters and the results compared with international standards. The results of physiochemical parameters showed that the water samples were mildly acidic, not saline and soft. The levels of some trace elements (Al, Fe, As, Cd, Co, Cu, Fe, Mn, Pb) in some water samples were higher than permissible limits. Water Quality Index, Contamination Index (Cd) and Trace Element Toxicity Index were used to evaluate the water samples. Results showed that most of the water sources are poor and unsafe for consumption due to high concentrations of Al, Fe, Mn and Pb. Microbiological parameters revealed that 74% of the water samples are in the class of high risk to grossly polluted. Pollution associated with the catchment area was probably the main factor controlling the quality of pipe-borne water, while that of the surface and groundwater may be attributed to geogenic and anthropogenic sources including unlined pit latrines. Water sources, especially those ingested by humans in Kumba, should be properly managed including regular treatment so as to protect the health of humans and improve the quality of life.

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(modified after Tchambe et al. 2015)

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Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission and British Council for fellowship for Therese Nganje (NGCF-2009-154) and Dr Esther Agbor (CMCF-2013-23) at the University of the West of Scotland, UK. Also, the authors thank the owners of the various water sources for access to their facilities. The assistance of Mr. Thomas Eben of Kumba 1 council for literature and the medical chief of Baptist health center in 2014 for the hospital data is acknowledged. Also, support and encouragement by Dr Michael Watts, President of the Society for Environmental Geochemistry and Health, to the first author is highly commendable.

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Appendices

Appendix 1

See Table 9.

Table 9 Details of physicochemical parameters, trace elements and biological parameters

Appendix 2

See Table 10.

Table 10 Detailed results of bacteriological parameters in the area of study

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Nganje, T.N., Agbor, E.E., Adamu, C.I. et al. Public health challenges as a result of contaminated water sources in Kumba, Cameroon. Environ Geochem Health 42, 1167–1195 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10653-019-00375-7

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Keywords

  • Water quality
  • Exposure risk
  • Public health
  • Kumba Cameroon