Full Project – Determination of total petroleum hydrocarbons in Niger river

Full Project – Determination of total petroleum hydrocarbons in Niger river

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Total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) is a mixture of chemicals which are made mainly from hydrogen and carbon, and so referred to as hydrocarbons. Some of the chemical components of TPH include hexane, jet fuels, mineral oils, benzene, toluene, xylenes, naphthalene, as well as other petroleum products and gasoline components. The concentration of TPH found in a study sample is indicative of the TPH contamination at that site and shows only little about how the particular petroleum hydrocarbons in the sample may affect people, animals, and plants (U.S. DHHS, 1999). Petroleum hydrocarbons are ubiquitous contaminants and their residues persist in the environment, therefore they represent human health hazards (Wakeham, 1996; Lipiatou and Saliot, 1991).

Macaulay et al. (Macaulay and Rees, 2014) stated that fundamental variation exists in the pathway for the dissipation of Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon (TPH) when spilled on land and water. Oil spilled on the sea surface undergoes various weathering processes simultaneously, such as spreading influenced by wind, turbulence and the presence of ice on the water surface, evaporation, emulsification, photo-oxidation, dispersion, sinking, resurfacing, tar ball formation, and biodegradation which makes oil spill control very difficult. Hence, the extent of the damage caused by the spill and the ease of clean-up depends on how quickly the clean-up response takes effect. The kinetics of these processes depends largely on sea conditions and the meteorological environment There have been several typical researches on surface water monitoring and assessment in the country but these studies vary in methodology and purpose Ajao et al., (1996) worked on a review of pollution in coastal waters in Nigeria. They listed the various water bodies draining the country and grouped them based on the geology of their surrounding coasts (geomorphic units) (Ibe, 1988). They listed some of the sources of pollution in coastal waters including mining effluents, industrial effluents, domestic effluents and urban storm water runoff, shipping activities, Agricultural/ farmland run-off and organic wastes.

Taiwo et al., (2012) reported that industrial effluents make up the chief constituents of surface water pollution in Nigeria with industries releasing untreated water to the environment. They added that activities in the Niger Delta such as bunkery, oil theft, and pipeline vandalism have also been a major contributor to surface water pollution in that area. They concluded that variations in the quality of surface water experienced in the country reflects differences in land management and the physical environment, and surface water in urban areas are more prone to industrial effluents than rural areas.

Water is very essential for agriculture, industries and other human activities, and are normally obtained from two major natural sources which are surface water (water bodies) such as rivers, streams, fresh water and ground water (geological water) such as borehole and well water (Mendie.2005;Vanloon et al.,2005). Despite the numerous benefits of water, there is a very serious concern for the accessibility of this free and indispensable product due to the high rate of contamination of most water bodies. A wide range of contaminants are continuously introduced into the aquatic environment mainly due to increased industrialization, technological development, growing human population, oil exploration and exploitation, agricultural and domestic wastes run-off, and may contribute greatly, to the poor quality of river water Chindah et al.,(2004); Emongore et al 2005; Lima et al 2008). Also, many aquatic animals such as fishes and shellfishes either die or become polluted with trace metals and bio contaminants often associated with petroleum and municipal wastes;(Ekanem et al.,1994; Jaleel et al., 1996; Udo et al., 1995).

Among the various sources of pollution, the petroleum industry is considered the greatest source of water pollution in Nigeria; Anukam (1997). The increase in crude oil exploitation has resulted in remarkable increase in environmental degradation of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and the degree of contamination may be significant where frequent spillages occur (Akporido and Onianwa 2015). Organic chemicals such as hydrocarbons are major constituents of petroleum and can enter the aquatic environment through natural and anthropogenic sources. However, only small amounts of natural hydrocarbons are present in the environment that originates from geochemical and biosynthetic cycle. (Lopez et al 2000). Man-made activities that contribute to the pollution of water bodies may be intentional or accidental and these include gas flaring, oil spill, discarding of used lubrication oils, tank cleaning, leakages from marine vessels and off shore oil production, direct ocean dumping, coastal, municipal and industrial wastes, runoff from crude oil polluted lands, seepage, refinery effluents etc. (Azevedo et al., 2002; Medeiros et al 2005; NRC 2003; Wokoma 2014).

Total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) is a mixture of measurable amount of petroleum-based hydrocarbons found in crude oil in an environmental media Rauckyte et al., (2010). Some of the chemicals found in TPH are hexane, benzene toluene, xylene, naphthalene as well as other petroleum products and gasoline components. However, it is likely that samples of TPH will contain only some, or a mixture, of these chemicals (ATSDR1999; Gustafson 2007). There are many sources of TPH contaminants in our environment which include petroleum extraction, transportation, refining and consumption MDEP (2004). The amount and types of compounds in petroleum hydrocarbon release differ widely depending on the product spilled and how it weathered by oil coating thereby causing death, produce carcinogenic and mutagenic effect inhuman, impairs the growth and development of marine organisms, causes fish, crustaceans and molluscs to die.


The presence of Petroleum hydrocarbons in surface waters may present human health hazard. The toxicity of Petroleum hydrocarbons to aquatic organism may include smothering (asphyxiation) and ultimate death. Some forms of Petroleum hydrocarbons have also been shown to cause leukemia, skin disorder, lung cancer and even death. Crude oil exploration and exploitation has resulted in a remarkable increase in environmental degradation of soil, surface water, ground water and ecology. Oil theft bunkery, pipeline vandalism and oil spills are major contributors to increase in the level of Total Petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) in surface water. Many research work have been conducted to determine TPH contents of surface water in some part of the country, but work in the Okpo and   Iyiowa-Odekpe   area of the Niger River are still scanty. Therefore, this work seems to determine the TPH content of Niger River at Okpo and Iyiowa-Odekpe portion.


The research is necessary to acknowledge the impact of petroleum and oil related activities on the water quality of the River Niger at Okpo and Iyiowa-Odekpe portions.


This research work is aimed at determining the Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons in surface water from Niger River around Okpo and   Iyiowa-Odekpe portion.


The objectives of this study are:

(i) To quantify the amount of Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon in surface water of Niger River around Okpo and   Iyiowa-Odekpe   portion.

(ii) To compare the Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon values with those of known standard.

(iii) To furnish the amount of individual Petroleum Hydrocarbon contributions to their Total.

(iv) To ascertain a baseline data necessary for future monitoring.


The scope of this research covers only the determination of Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon level. Bacteriological examination and physiochemical properties were not carried out in the study area. The sample was taking only for the month of August, therefore the monthly variation of level of TPH was not determined due to time factor, financial constraint and resources, this research is only limited to the above.

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Full Project – Determination of total petroleum hydrocarbons in Niger river