Investigation on copper levels in and around fish farms in Kitwe, copperbelt province, Zambia

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Sokoine University of Agriculture


A study was conducted to assess possible risks of copper contamination in fish farmed in copper mining areas of Zambia. Nine fish farms were selected within and around Kitwe district for the study. The farms drew water from different sources – dam, river and spring. Five types of samples were sampled, i.e. soil, sediment, plant, fish and water at each farm. Three fish ponds were sampled at each farm. Copper determination in each sample was carried out using Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer (AAS). The results revealed that there were significant differences between farms receiving water from different sources with respect to copper concentration in soils, sediment, plant and fish but not in water. The soil and sediment samples taken from around Mindolo Dam had the highest concentration of copper, while those taken from around Kafue River had the lowest copper concentration. The mean copper concentrations in soil and sediment samples taken from around Mindolo Dam were 91.09 and 41.71 ppm while those from around Garneton spring were 30.36 and 36.47 ppm and around Kafue River were 13.55 and 24.43 ppm respectively. From the three sources of water the mean copper levels in plant, fish and water samples ranged from 13.93 to 26.12, 8.68 to 13.25 and 0.14 to 0.39 ppm respectively. Furthermore, farms receiving water from same sources differed significantly with respect copper concentration in soil, plant, sediment and fish, but not in water. From the results it can be concluded that the relatively high levels of copper in soils and sediments from Mindolo Dam and Garneton Spring were due to their natural presence there and had not been deposited from anywhere else. The relatively much higher levels of copper observed in fish than in water mayii be attributed to the build up of mineral in the fish with time. More studies are needed to establish the origin of copper in and around the fish ponds in the study area.



copper levels, fish farms, farms in Kitwe, Zambia, Copperbelt