Assessment of Heavy Metal Contamination in Vended Road-Side Snacks using Ilorin as a Case Study

Keywords: Heavy metals, Snacks, Contamination, Environment


Heavy metals are naturally found in the environment being present in human and animal bodies, rock, soil, plant and water. The levels of some heavy metals namely lead, cadmium, copper, zinc and nickel in road-side snacks (puff-puff, bean cake and roasted plantain) commonly sold in Ilorin metropolis were evaluated using Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer following standard digestion procedure. Samples from four locations characterized by heavy traffic and various human activities (Gaa-Akanbi, Tanke, Taiwo and Post office) were collected and compared with those from a control location characterized by low traffic and less human activities (Unilorin Campus). The levels of heavy metals were generally found to be lower than the permissible limits for the respective metals set by FAO/WHO while statistical analyses revealed a significant difference in lead, zinc and nickel levels for bean cake across the studied locations. The presence of some of these metals can be attributed to the various human activities, vehicular emission, storage containers, methods and ingredients used in the preparation. However, the results indicate that consumption of these road-side snacks may not pose any serious health threat.