An assessment of the potential ecological risk of heavy metals and a metalloid in agricultural soils in 19 communities in Tarkwa, Ghana.
Heavy metals and a metalloid in agricultural soils in 19 communities in Tarkwa were analyzed to assess the potential ecological risk. A total of 147 soil samples were collected in June, 2012 and analyzed for As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb and Zn. Mean concentrations (mg/kg dw) of heavy metals in the communities decreased in order of Zn (39) ˃ Cr (21) ˃ Pb (7.2) ˃ Cu (6.2) ˃ As (4.4) ˃ Ni (3.7) ˃ Co (1.8) ˃ Hg (0.32) ˃ Cd (0.050). Correlations among heavy metals and soil properties indicated that soil organic matter could have substantial influence on the total contents of these metals in soil. From the results, integrated pollution (Cdeg) in some communities such as, Wangarakrom (11), Badukrom (13) and T–Tamso (17) indicated high pollution with toxic metals, especially from As and Hg. Potential ecological risk (RI) indices indicated low (Mile 7) to high risks (Wangarakrom; Badukrom) of metals. Based on pollution coefficient (Cif), Cdeg, monomial ecological risk (Eir) and RI, the investigated soils fall within low to high contamination and risk of heavy metals to the ecological system especially plants, soil invertebrates and/or mammalian wildlife. This represented moderate potential ecological risk in the study area, and mining activities have played a significant role.