International Journal of
Physical Sciences

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Phys. Sci.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1992-1950
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJPS
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 2572

Full Length Research Paper

Heavy metal pollution and human biotoxic effects

Duruibe, J. O.1*, Ogwuegbu, M. O. C.2 and Egwurugwu, J. N. 3
1Department of Chemistry/Biochemistry, School of Industrial and Applied Sciences, Federal Polytechnic Nekede, P. M. B. 1036, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria. 2Department of Industrial Chemistry, Faculty of Biological and Physical Sciences, Abia State University, P. M. B. 2000 Uturu, Abia State, Nigeria. 3Department of Physiology, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Imo State University, P. M. B. 2000 Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 20 April 2007
  •  Published: 31 May 2007


Some heavy metals have bio-importance as trace elements but, the biotoxic effects of many of them in human biochemistry are of great concern. Hence, there is the need for proper understanding of the conditions, such as the concentrations and oxidation states, which make them harmful, and how biotoxicity occurs. It is also important to know their sources, leaching processes, chemical conversions and their modes of deposition to pollute the environment, which essentially supports lives. Literature sources point to the fact that these metals are released into the environment by both natural and anthropogenic sources, especially mining and industrial activities, and automobile exhausts (for lead). They leach into underground waters, moving along water pathways and eventually depositing in the aquifer, or are washed away by run-off into surface waters thereby resulting in water and subsequently soil pollution. Poisoning and toxicity in animals occur frequently through exchange and co-ordination mechanisms. When ingested, they combine with the body’s biomolecules, like proteins and enzymes to form stable biotoxic compounds, thereby mutilating their structures and hindering them from the bioreactions of their functions. This paper reviews certain heavy metals and their biotoxic effects on man and the mechanisms of their biochemical activities.


Keywords:  Biochemical, biotoxic, environment, heavy metals, pollution.