The proliferation of industries has led to increased presence of heavy metals in our environment and, humans are continually exposed to these heavy metals through their engagements in different industrial activities. The current study is designed to make a comparative assessment of the level of heavy metals (Pb, Cu, Ni, Zn, Al) in the hair scalp of humans living in industrialized and unindustrialized cities of Port Harcourt and Okigwe respectively. Male hair samples were randomly collected and analysed for their trace metals contents by atomic absorption spectrophotometry (AAS). Higher geometric mean values for Zn, Ni and Pb were obtained in hair samples of donors from Port Harcourt as compared to that of Okigwe which rather recorded high geometric mean values for Cu and Al. It was observed that there was a significant difference in the mean concentrations of Pb between Port Harcourt and Okigwe, with Port Harcourt having a very high concentration of 513.5 mg/kg while no significant differences were observed in the mean concentrations of the other metals between these two cities studied. For the general population studied, geometric mean values of 6.4, 118.9, 4.2, 35.9 and 45.7 mg/kg were obtained for the metals Cu, Zn, Ni, Pb and Al respectively. Results showed that the heavy metals found in human hair of the people living in the two cities were dependent mainly on environmental factors, occupation, lifestyle and feeding habits.
Key words: heavy metals, scalp hair, industrialized and unindustrialized area, environmental factors, occupation, lifestyle.
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