High Performance Liquid Chromatographic Identification and Estimation of Phthalates in Sewer Waste and a Receiving River in Ibadan City, Southwestern Nigeria


Medical wastes have been implicated in river pollution in developing countries and most often people depend on water from such rivers for sources of livelihood. Phthalates (endocrine disruptors) are major components in medical wastes and are commonly found contaminants in aquatic environment. Most sewage treatment facilities handling medical waste are inefficient due to overuse and poor maintenance and discharge directly into rivers. This study aimed to investigate the identity and estimates the concentration of phthalates in supposed treated medical wastes from a hospital sewer and water from a receiving river. Samples were randomly collected before and after treatment by the sewer plants, while samples were randomly collected along the course of the river starting from point of discharge. Control samples were taken from upstream about 500 m along the river course. The samples were extracted by liquid-liquid chroma- tographic process using dichloromethane, after which they were cleaned up in a column of silica gel using hexane as the mobile solvent. The cleaned extracts were analyzed by HPLC. The concentrations (μg/L) of dimethyl-, diethyl-, diphenyl-, dibutyl- and di-(2-ethyl)hexyl phthalates ranged from 62.81 ± 18.53; 4.74 ± 3.57; 2.05 ± 1.80; 11.40 ± 5.58 to 141.92 ± 35.8 respectively in the sewer waste. The receiving river had a concentration (μg/L) of 9.17 ± 14.02; 0.18 ± 0.31; 0.48 ± 0.84; 2.84 ± 1.21; 61.72 ± 38.35 respectively for dimethyl-, diethyl-, diphenyl-, dibutyl- and di-(2-ethyl) hexyl phthalates. These concentrations were higher than control and far exceeded the USEPA limits of 3 μg/l recom- mended for phthalates in water. Contaminants of aquatic environment by untreated wastes from hospitals has serious implications on public health and environment as human risks for phthalate esters downstream are high and this calls for urgent need to develop strategy to build incentives for compliance in treatment and discharge of wastes into river waters.

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Adewuyi, G. (2012) High Performance Liquid Chromatographic Identification and Estimation of Phthalates in Sewer Waste and a Receiving River in Ibadan City, Southwestern Nigeria. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 4, 851-858. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2012.410099.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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