Impact of petroleum refining activities on nitrate and nitrite content of edible vegetables and on their in vivo kinetics in albino rats


The influence of pollution from petroleum refining activities on the levels of nitrates and nitrites in five edible vegetable species was investigated. Besides, the kinetics of nitrite and nitrate was studied in vivo using albino rats with focus on the possible influence of concentration difference on kinetics and implications to toxicity. Leaf samples of the five vegetable species were collected randomly from various locations within Eleme, a host community of Port Harcourt Refinery Company and the Indorama Petrochemical Company. Also, samples were collected from Umuahia, which served as pollution-free control. The leaf samples were analyzed for their nitrite and nitrate contents. Nitrite was determined spectrophotometrically while nitrate was determined after cadmium column reduction. Results showed that samples from Eleme had higher mean nitrate (349.20 mg/100g dry leaf mass; P < 0.05) and nitrite (63.12 mg/100g dry leaf mass; P > 0.05) as compared to the same samples from Umuahia. Solutions of nitrate and nitrite, equivalent in concentration to mean nitrate and nitrite content of the vegetable samples from the two locations were administered enterally to four groups of albino rats. Analysis of their blood levels were monitored five times at 30 minutes intervals following administration. Rates of change of blood nitrites and nitrates were found to be fairly constant in absorption as well as in the elimination phase. Their peak blood concentrations varied proportionately with their concentrations in administered solutions. However, peak blood nitrate was attained later in group of animals receiving higher amount of nitrate solution. Refining activities may pre-dispose people living within Eleme community to health hazards through contamination of edible vegetables.

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Otti, G. and N. Okafor, P. (2012) Impact of petroleum refining activities on nitrate and nitrite content of edible vegetables and on their in vivo kinetics in albino rats. Journal of Biophysical Chemistry, 3, 269-277. doi: 10.4236/jbpc.2012.34032.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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