Abattoir Effluent – Effect On The Physiochemical Properties Of Iyiokwu River In Abakaliki

Abattoir Effluent – Effect On The Physiochemical Properties Of Iyiokwu River In Abakaliki

Abattoir Effluent – Effect On The Physiochemical Properties Of Iyiokwu River In Abakaliki

Environmental problems have increased in geometric proportion over the last three decades with improper management practices being largely responsible for the gross pollution of the aquatic environment with concomitant increase in water borne disease especially typhoid, diarrhea, and dysentery. Abattoirs are generally known all over the world to pollute the environment either directly or indirectly from their various processes.

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The continuous drive to increase meat production to meet the protein needs of the population is usually associated with some pollution problems (Hinton et al, 2000). A slaughter house or abattoir is a facility where animals are killed for consumption as food products. Approximately 45-50% of the animal can be turned into edible products (meat), about 15% are wastes, and the remaining 40-45% of are animals to turned into by products such as leather, soaps, candle (tallow) and adhesives.

In Nigeria, many abattoirs dispose their effluents directly into streams and rivers without any form of treatment and the slaughtered meat is washed by the same water (Adelegan, 2002). Such is the situation in several private and government abattoir in most parts of the country. Contamination of river body from abattoir wastes which is the main focus of this study could constitute a significant environmental and health hazards (World Bank 1995; Coker et al., 2001, Nafarnda et al., 2006; Osibajo and Adie, 2007). The location and operation of abattoirs are generally unregulated, aside, they are usually located near water bodies where access to water for processing is guaranteed. The animal blood is released untreated into the flowing stream while the consumable parts of the slaughtered animal are washed directly into the flowing water (Adelegan, 2002). Sangodoyin and Agbawe (1992) identified improper management and supervision of abattoir activities as a major source of risk to public health in South Western Nigeria; and likewise all over the country.

Surface water pollution is a major problem beclouding most developing nations. However, the source and nature of contamination vary from one nation to the other. Based on the importance of water to humans, there is a great need to evaluate the quality of surface water at an abattoir site.


The main objective of this work is to determine the effect of abattoir effluent on the physiochemical properties of lyiokwu river in Abakiliki.


To determine the physical properties of Iyiokwu river

To determine the chemical properties of Iyiokwu river

To compare Iyiokwu river which is contaminated with abattoir effluent with International Standards for surface water



Water is a marvelous substance flowing, rippling, swirling around obstacles in its path, seeping, dripping, trickling, constantly moving from sea to land and back again. Water can be clear, crystalline, icy green in a mountain stream, or black and opaque in a cypress swap (Cunningham et al; 2005). Water bugs skitter across the surface of the quiet lake; a stream cascades down a stair step ledge of rock; waves roll endlessly up a sand beach, crash in a welter of foam, and recede. Rain falls in a gentle mist, refreshing plants and animals. A violent thunderstorm floods a meadow, washing away stream banks. Water is a most beautiful and precious resource. (Cunningham et al; 2005).

Water the second most important necessity of man performs three roles of regulating the body temperature, transporting body nutrients to other vital organs, and carrying waste out of our internal body organs (Akaninyene et al., 2000). Water resources are used in various ways including direct consumption, agricultural irrigation, fisheries, hydropower, industries production, recreation, navigation, environmental protection, the disposal and treatment of sewage and industry effluents. Water has sources and supplies, economic, social and political characteristics which makes it a unique and challenging natural resource to manage (Medalye and Hubbart, 2008).

Water resources refer to the supply of ground water and surface water in a given area. Water resources may also reference the current or potential value of the resource to the community and the environment. The maximum rate that water is potentially available for human use and management is often considered the best measure of the total water resources of a given region. Approximately, 30% of the world’s fresh water is in liquid form and therefore potentially accessible for human use and management at any given time; the rest is either locked up in polar or glacial ice or water vapor. Of the 30 percent of fresh water in liquid form, almost all is held in groundwater (Medalye and Hubbart, 2008).

Clean, fresh water is essential for nearly every human endeavor. Perhaps more than any other environmental factor, the availability of water determines the location and activities of humans on earth. Renewable water supplies are made up, in general, of surface runoff plus the infiltration into accessible fresh water aquifers. About two thirds of the water carried in rivers and streams every year occurs in seasonal floods that are too large or violent to be stored or trapped effectively for human use. Stable runoff is the dependable, renewable, year-round supply of surface water. Much of this occurs, however, in sparsely inhabited regions or where technology, finances, or other factors make it difficult to use it productively. Still, the readily accessible, renewable water supplies are very large, amounting to some 1,500km3 (about 400,000 gal) per person per year worldwide (Cunningham et al., 2008).

The value of useable water to future generations is hard to qualify and define and requires considerations of quantity, quality, timing and accessibility. As well, the value of water to particular uses depends crucially on its location quality and timing. Its location determines its accessibility and costs. Its quality affects whether it can be used, and what treatment cost it will require. The time when it is available governs its reliability and its relative value for power, irrigation, environment or portable uses (FAO, 1995).

The availability of water determines the location and activities of humans in an area and our growing population is placing great demands upon natural fresh water resources. Technological growth has also put the ecosystem we depend on under stress and the availability of water is at a very high risk (Kulshreshtha 1998; Osibanjo, 1996). Ebonyi state like quite a number of states in Nigeria is faced with increasing pressure on water resources and the widespread, long lasting water shortages in many areas are as a result of rising demand, unequal distribution and increasing pollution of existing water supply. The bye product of agricultural activities, urbanization, and industrialization results in pollution and degradation of the available water resource (Waziri et al., 2009; Ajayi and Osibanjo, 1981).

It is important to analyze water and determine its suitability for drinking, domestic use, industrial use, agricultural use, etc. It is also important in water quality studies to know the amount of organic matter presenting the system and the quantity of the oxygen required for the stabilization of the water.


Precipitation that does not evaporate or infiltrate into the ground runs off over the surface, drawn by the force of granting back toward the sea. Rivulets accumulate to form streams, and streams join to form rivers. Although the total amount of water contained at any one time in rivers and streams is small compared to the other water reservoirs of the world, these surface waters are vitally important to humans and most other organisms. We measure the size of a river in terms of its discharge, the amount of water that passes a fixed point in a given amount of time; and it is usually expressed as liters or cubic feet of water per second (Cunningham et al., 2008).

In a paper titled “Nigerian threatened Environment” river was said to be polluted when a river body is loaded with waste materials or heat such that its natural ability for self purification can no longer cope with the situation. Water pollution occurs when something enters water and changes the natural ecosystem or interferes with water use by segments of society (Enger and Smith; 2006). In an industrialized society, maintaining completely unpolluted water in all drains, streams, rivers and lakes is probably impossible. But we can evaluate the water quality of a body of water and take steps to preserve or improve its quality by eliminating sources of pollution.

The drastic increase in the Nigerian population that has resulted to the massive practice of indiscriminate dumping of wastes of all kinds in our towns and villages, increased use of fertilizers and other agro chemicals and accelerated erosion, suggest strongly that there is wide spread pollution of streams, rivers, lakes and lagoons.

Surface and groundwater, pollution is a major problem beclouding Nigeria and other developing nations. The source and nature of contamination however, vary from one nation to another.

Aside, very few percentage of the population in these nations has access to good and safe water, while most surface water is either contaminated by industrial effluents or sewerage. The pollution can either be of point source or non-point source. Point sources of pollution occur when pollutants are emitted directly into the water body e.g., from industrial sewage or municipal waste water pipes. A non-point source delivers pollutants indirectly through environmental changes such as pollution from urban run –off (TCEQ, 2002; Krantz and Kifferstein, 2005). Major known sources of water pollution are municipal, industrial and agricultural. The most polluting of them are sewage and industrial waste discharges unto rivers. Industrial effluents mostly contain heavy metals, acids, hydrocarbons and atmospheric deposition (Alam et al; 2002). Agricultural run-off is another major water pollutant as it contains nitrogen compounds and phosporus from fertilizers, pesticides, salts, poultry wastes and wash down from abattoirs. Contaminants are usually of varied composition ranging from simple organic substances to complex inorganic compounds with varying degrees of toxicity. Pollution of surface water, the natural habitat for aquatic animals could have consequential impact on man either directly or indirectly since less than 1% of the world’s fresh water about 0.007% of all water on earth is readily accessible for direct human use (UNESCO, 2006, Krantz and Kifferstain, 2005.

In Nigeria, available reports cite gross contamination of most river bodies across the nation by discharge of industrial effluents, sewage and agricultural wastes among others (World Bank, 1995)



Acids Atmospheric deposition; mine drainage, decomposing organic matter Reduced availability of fish and shellfish Increased heavy metals in fish. Death of sensitive aquatic organisms; Increased release of trace metals from soils, rock, and metal surfaces, such as water pipes.

Chlorides Runoff from roads treated for removal of ice or snow; irrigation runoff; brine. Produced in oil extraction; mining Reduced availability of drinking water supplies, reduced availability of shellfish. At high levels, toxic to fresh water organisms.

Disease causing Organisms Dumping of raw and partially treated sewage; runoff of animal wastes from feedlots. Increased cost water treatment; death and disease; reduced availability and contamination of fish, shellfish and associated spices. Reduced survival and reproduction of aquatic organisms due to disease.

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Elevated temperatures Heat trapped by cities that is transferred to water; unshaded streams, solar heating of reservoirs, warm water discharges from power plants and industrial facilities. Reduced availability of fishes. Elimination of cold water species of fish and shellfish, less oxygen; heat-stressed animals susceptible to disease; inappropriate spawning behaviour.

Heavy Metals Atmospheric deposition; road runoff; discharges from sewage treatment plants and industrial sources, creation of reservoirs; acidic mine effluents Increased cost of water treatment; disease and death, reduced availability and healthfulness of fish and shellfish, biomagnifications. Lower fish population due to failed reproduction, death of invertebrates leading to reduced prey for fish, biomagnifications

Nutrient Enrichment Runoff from agricultural fields, pastures and livestock feedlots, landscaped urban areas, dumping of raw and treated sewage and industrial discharges, phosphate detergents. Increased water treatment costs; reduced availability of fish, shell fish and associated species, colour and odour associated with algal growth, impairment of recreational uses. Algal blooms occur. Death of algae results in low oxygen levels and reduced diversity and growth of large plants. Reduced diversity of animals, fish kills.

Organic Molecules Runoff from agricultural fields and pastures, landscaped urban areas, logged areas; discharges from chemical manufacturing and other industrial processes, combined sewers. Increased costs of water treatment, reduced availability of fish, shellfish, and associated species, odours. Reduced oxygen; fish kills, reduced numbers and diversity of aquatic life.

Sediment Runoff from agricultural land and livestock feedlots; logged hillsides, degraded stream banks, road construction, and other improper land use. Increased water treatment costs, reduced availability of fish, shell fish and associated species, filling in of lakes, streams and artificial reservoirs and harbors requiring dredging. Covering of spawning sites for fish, reduced numbers of insect species; reduced plant growth and diversity, reduced prey for predators; clogging of gills and filters.

Toxic Chemical Urban and agricultural runoff, municipal and industrial discharges, leachate from land fills and mines, atmospheric deposits. Increased cost of water treatment; increased risk of certain cancers, reduced availability and healthfulness of fish and shell fish. Reduced growth and survivability of fish eggs and young, fish diseases, death of carnivores due to biomagnifications in the food chain.


Abattoir also known as slaughter house is a place where animals are butchered for food according to Collins English Dictionary. Abattoir Acts (1988) defined abattoir as any premises used for or in connection with the slaughter of animals whose meat is intended for human consumption and include a slaughter house but does not include a place situated on a farm. Animals include cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and other equine animals. The killing of animals is inevitable in most nations of the world and dated back to antiquity. Public abattoir had been traced to Roman civilization and in France by 15th and 16th centuries, public slaughter houses were among the public facilities (Oyedemi, 2000). In Italy, a law of 1890 required that public abattoir be provided in all communities of more than six thousand inhabitants. Similar things were reported in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands and Rumania (Jode Loverdo et al., 1906; cited by Oyedemi, 2000). Robert Forster (2005) reported that in United Kingdom, abattoirs or slaughter houses perform a vital role in purchasing cattle, and sheep from farms and transforming them into carcass meat. He revealed that in 2001, there were about 360 licensed red-meat abattoirs in UK compared with almost 900 in 1990.

In Nigeria, nearly every town and neighbourhood is provided with slaughter house or slaughter slab.

Edwards et al. (1979) cited by Oyedemi, 2000 published on slaughter facilities for tropical conditions and observed that abattoir may be situated in urban, rural and nominated industrial site and that each has advantages and disadvantages. The advantages of the rural site according to him out-weighed those of the other sites and recommended that a rural location be chosen where possible. They recommend that abattoir should be built on firm gently sloping land away from other buildings, residential areas and factories. He further suggested that the site for abattoir should be chosen well away from town boundaries including projected town boundaries. Abattoir management provides a service in slaughtering of animals.

Edwards et al. (1979) cited by Oyedemi (2000) reported that the slaughter of animals in abattoirs of developing countries was carried out in unsuitable buildings by untrained slaughter men and butchers that were unaware of sanitary principles. Wastes generated by abattoirs are potential environmental quality problems. Raymond (1977), cited by Oyedemi (2000), submitted that, problem may be more dependent upon the abattoir activities or operation practices and waste management techniques than the size of the operation, the number of cattle or amount of waste involved. In Nigeria, Sridhar (1998) reported that, a cow brought for slaughtering produces 328. 4kg of waste in form of dung, bone, blood, horn and roof. Robert (2005) submitted that the disposal of waste product is a problem that has always dominated the slaughter sector and on average, 53 percent of each sheep, and 34 percent of each pig consist of non-meat substances.

The meat slaughtering and meat processing industry consists of a number of small plants. The main wastes originate from killing, hide removal or de-hairing, paunch handling, rendering, trimming, processing and clean up operations.


The characteristics of slaughter house waste and effluent vary from day to day depending on the number, types of stock being processed and the method (Tove, 1985). Waste generated by abattoirs include solid waste, made up of paunch content, bones, horns and feacal components, slurry of suspended solids, fat, blood and soluble materials (Sangodoyin et al., 1992). These wastes from abattoir operations can also be separated into solid, liquid and fat. These wastes are highly organic. The solid waste includes condensed meat, undigested ingesta, bones, horns hairs and aborted fetuses. The liquid waste is usually composed of dissolved solids, blood and gut contents, urine and water, while fat waste consists of fat/oil, grease which are characterized with high organic levels (Bull etal,1982.Coker et al.,2001; Nafarnda et al., 2006).

The total amount of waste produced per animal slaughtered is approximately 35% its body weight (World Bank 1998). In an earlier study Verheijen et al;(1996) found out that for every 1,000kg of carcass weight, a slaughtered cow produce 5.5kg of manure (excluding rumen contents or stockyard manure) and 100kg of paunch manure (partially digested food). The weight of a matured cow varies with size, ranging from 400kg for a thin animal, 550kg for a moderate one, to 750kg for the extremely fat one (Hammock and Gill 2002).

Scahill (2003) gave more detailed statistics on both the live and dead weight of a cow in his study. A cow weighing 400kg would have its carcass weight reduced to about 200kg after slaughter. Furthermore, it loses about one-third fat and bone after passing through the butcher. Hence a 400kg live weight animal will give about 140kg of edible meat which will represent only 35% of its weight. The remaining 65% are either solid or liquid wastes.

Corroborating the above findings, Gannon et al., (2004) showed in their study that a slaughtered cow produced 13.6kg of blood (with bovine blood density ranging between 0.01 and 0.15gcc-1). Moreover, the volume of water required for meat rendering or processing ranged between 1.5 and 10m3t-1 and 30m3t-1 of product for hogs, 2.5 and 40m3t-1 of product of cattle and 6 and 30m3t-1 product for poultry.

The organic load from abattoirs could be very high. Tritt and Schuchardt (1992) reported a chemical oxygen Demand {COD} level as high as 2,785,000 mgl-1 for raw bovine blood-comparatively, in another study conducted by Mittal (2004), on abattoirs in Quebec, Canada, typical values for a range of parameters in abattoirs wash down were given :total solids (TS) concentrations (2,333-8,620mgl-1), total suspended solids (TSS) (736-2,099mgl-1), while average levels of nitrogen and phosphorous were evaluated at 6 and 2.3 mgl-1, respectively. Hence abattoir effluents could considerably increase levels of nitrogen, phosphorous, and total solids in the receiving water body,


The nature and composition of abattoir waste water have been discussed in detail by Masse and Masse (2000).

The major characteristics are;

High organic content,

Sufficient organic biological nutrients,

Adequate alkalinity,

Relatively high temperature {20 to 30C},

Free toxic material.

Nelson and Avijit (1991) found that abattoir waste waters with the above characteristics are well suited to anaerobic treatment and the efficiency in reducing the BOD5 (Biological Oxygen Demand in 5 days) ranged between 60 and 90%. During abattoir processing, blood fat, manure, urine and meat tissues are lost to wastewater streams, as well as contributing to the pollutant load of waste water, these pollutants also represent a loss of resources if not recovered.

The pollution potential of meat processing plants has been estimated at over 1 million population equivalent in the Netherlands and 3million in France, (Masse et al., 2000; Tritt and Schuchardt, 1992). Of all the components of the abattoir effluents stream, blood constitutes the highest population load, followed by fat. Blood, one of the major dissolved pollutants in abattoir waste water has the highest COD of any effluent from abattoir operations. Liquid blood has a COD of about 400,000mgl-1 and congealed blood has a COD of about 900,000mgl-1 (Masse et al., 2000), it has BOD of around 375,000mgl-1 (Tritt and Schuchardt, 1992). Raw blood contributes on average 6kg of BOD for each head of cattle with its organic load equivalent to be 0.14 to 0.18kg of BOD5 per kg. Blood is also high in nutrients, typically 2,400mgl-1 of Nitrogen and 1,500 mgl-1 of phosphorous. The COD: BOD5 ratio varies between 1.3 and 2.0 (Masse and Masse, 2000). Allowing blood and fat into the effluent stream increases the cost of effluent treatment and represents the loss of valuable product. Every effort should be made to maximize raw blood and fat collection and subsequent processing into blood meal, tallow or other value added alternatives. Abattoir wastes water also contains high concentration of suspended solids, including pieces of fat, grease, hair, feathers, flesh, manure, grit and digested feed. These insoluble and slowly bio degradable components represented 50% of the pollution load in screened {1mm} slaughter house waste water, while another 25% originated from colloidal solids (Masse and Masse, 2000). Untreated effluent may be as high as 8,000mgl-1 BOD with suspended solids at 800 mgl-1 or greater. In most abattoirs , the paunch are washed out of the rumen which has a BOD5 of about 500,000 mgl-1, 60 to 80% of which is water soluble, representing a substantial load on the effluent stream. The waste water may also have pathogens, including salmonella and shigella bacteria, parasite eggs and amoebic cysts. Abattoir waste water contains several million colony forming units {cfu} per 100ml of total coli form, fecal coli form, and streptococcus groups of Bacteria.

Skin preservation by salting is a common procedure at small abattoir that are remote from tanning operations and often exports their hides are skins for tanning. After salting, the hides are hung to dry for a minimum of five days. The effluent from drying sheds is therefore highly saline, has a very high BOD and contains high levels of chloride as the applied salt is a sodium chloride as a bactericide. Chloride levels maybe very high {up to 77,000 mgl-1} from curing and pickling processes. This may lead to salinity problems, including tree death and destruction of aquatic fauna in receiving water bodies. Cooking activities greatly increase the fat and grease concentration in the effluent. If the blood from a single cow carcass is allowed to discharge directly into a sewer line, the effluent load will be equivalent to the total sewage produced by 50 people on average day (Masse and Masse, 2000). The slaughtering of livestock is a significant contributor to the overall environmental load produced over the life cycle of metal production and consumption. Therefore, the application of cleaner production in this phase of the life cycle is important.

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Livestock production, which is perceived by the public to be potential food for the world’s needy people, is a major pollutant of the country side {where the animals are raised} and cities, if processors do not manage slaughter wastes properly with dung and slurry washed into water ways. Improper management of abattoir wastes and subsequent disposal either directly or indirectly into River bodies portends serious environmental and health hazards both to adequate life and humans.

Raymond (1977) however reported that waste can affect water, land or air qualities if proper practices of management are not followed. It can cause pollution of soil with dung and the atmosphere with methane {a green house gas} from decomposing wastes. Animal waste can be valuable for crops but can cause water quality trace heavy metals, salts, bacteria, viruses, other micro organisms sediment.

The pollution load on a water body from abattoir effluent can be quite high, for example studies done in Canada (Mittal, 2004) and Nigeria (Adie and Osibanjo, 2007) showed very high contaminants are known to be hazardous to human beings and aquatic life.


Noise pollution was reported by Oyedemi {2004} to be associated with abattoir activities and location. In abattoirs, noise can be generated by several sources, including:

Animals especially when in concentrated groups.

Processing activities within the slaughter house.

Plant machinery.

Plant and service vehicles.

Noise from the slaughter house and by-products area is generated by mechanical plant {such as conveyors}, ventilation plant, air conditioning, stunning boxes, compressed air equipment, pumps and rendering plant. Some of this equipment may need to operate 24 hours a day. An abattoir is serviced by a variety of vehicles including trucks and fork lifts.

Moreover, an abattoir operation brings about odour in the environment which is another effect on air. Potential sources of odours in abattoir operations are:

The cooking and rendering process

Waste effluent treatment plants

Slaughter houses

Product storage and handling areas

Material drying areas

Waste disposal techniques such as burning dead stock

Animal holding pens

Holding of carcass before disposal

Odours from skin handling

Odours from skin shed.

Source of odours in the rendering plant include stale materials and fugitive emissions from cookers. Odours come from solid waste such as paunch contests and blood residues.

Potential source s of dust emissions at an abattoir are:

Unsealed roads

Paddocks, sale yards and holding pens.

Stockpiled products and materials

Construction activities.

Moreover, operations in abattoir give rise to atmospheric emission. Materials burned at an abattoir include:

Coal or gas fuel for boilers and stearm production

Diseased animal



Unusable skins

The burning of the above emits green house gases into the atmosphere and this leads to air pollution. Wing and Wolf (2000) noted decrease in health and quality of life of residents around intensive livestock operations and hinted that respiratory and mucous membrane effects were common with neighbours of intensive swine operation.


Mineral tannery waste water that is discharged on land will affect the soil productivity adversely and may cause land to become infertile.

The use of Organic manures {especially ruminant dung, poultry droppings, house hold refuse and effluents} for crops production is an age long agricultural practice among the subsistence farming communities in West Africa sub region (Lombin et al., 1991)


Wells in vicinity of abattoirs which serves as source of water to the abattoir users was traced by Sangodoyin et al. (1992) to be polluted by effluent from the abattoir and constitute health risk for the butchers and users of the wells.

Waste water from an abattoir is a particularly concentrated source of oxygen consuming wastes (Girards 2005). Abattoirs are usually located near water bodies in order to gain unhampered access to water for processing. Abattoirs generally use large quantity of water for washing meat and cleaning process areas (Kuyeli, 2007). The disposal of effluent into drains and stream of Iyiokwu is a common practice which poses health and environmental hazards to the people down stream.

Livestock waste spills can introduce enteric pathogens and excess nutrients enteric pathogens and excess nutrients into surface waters (Meadows 1995). The excessive production of organic matter leads to the build up of “sludge” and the mineralization process consumes all dissolved oxygen from a water column (Mason 1991).

Excess nutrients can cause the water body to become choked with organic substances and organisms. When organic matter exceeds the capacity of the micro-organisms in water that breaks down and recycles the organic matter, it leads to eutrophication and encourage rapid growth or blooms of algae. Hence, abattoir effluents could increase levels of nitrogen, phosphorous, total solids in receiving water body considerably.

Equally, improper disposal systems of wastes from slaughter houses could lead to transmission of pathogens to humans and cause zoonotic disease such as Coli bacillosis, Salmonellosis, Brucellosis and Helminthes (Cadmus et al., 1995).

(Akuffo 1998) also observed that water quality degradation interferes with vital and legitimate water quality uses at any scale. Pollution of water resources reduces the availability of clean and safe drinking water. (Keating 1994) reported that in developing countries, an estimated 80% of all disease and over one third of deaths are caused by consuming contaminated water.


Pollution of our water resources might lead to destruction of primary producers and this in turn leads to diminishing consumer populations in water. The direct repercussion of this is diminishing fish yield with the resultant consequence that human diet suffers. Such conditions may arise through careless discharge of dangerous slowly biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes. Anaerobic conditions may rise and this will make it difficult for Aquatic life to flourish. Incidentally, survival of aquatic life is one very important tool for water quality monitoring. In terms of biological indications of water quantity, use is made of aquatic lives {e.g Diphniamagna} which are very sensitive to changes in pressure, pH, dissolved oxygen, toxicity and other chemical changes in water. These organisms may become disfigured or their reproductive lives impaired or are killed (Aina and Adedipe 1991).

Organic effluents also frequently contain large quantities of suspended solids which reduce the light available to photosynthetic organisms and on settling out, alter the characteristics of the river bed, rendering it an unsuitable habitat for many organisms. Ammonic is often present and this adds toxicity, (Mason 1991).

The waste from animals that are washed into the stream reduces oxygen in water, thereby endangering aquatic life. (George 1987) attributed excessive nitrate problem in New Zealand ground waters to concentrated livestock’s and manure usage.


In essence, slaughter activities, if not properly controlled may pose dangers to the farmers, butchers, the environment as well as the consumers.

These effluents that enter streams reduce the physical and chemical qualities of the stream, so pathogens from cattle waste could be transmitted to humans recreating in such streams.

(Coker et al., 2001) identified seven pathogenic species of bacteria species in abattoir effluent in south western Nigeria. These species among others included staphylococcus spp., streptococcus spp., in harsh environmental conditions; hence they affect animal and human health.

Likewise, improper disposal of effluent from slaughter house could lead to transmission of disease such as coli, Bacillus, Salmonella, infections, Brucellosis and helminthes disease and infections (Cadmus et al., 1999).

Medical experts were reported by Oyedemi (2004) to have associated some disease with abattoir activities which include pneumonia, diarrhea, typhoid fever, asthma, wool sorter diseases, respiratory and chest disease. E. coli infection source was reported to the undercooked beef which has been contaminated, often on abattoirs, with faces containing the bacterium (Encarta 2005). These diseases can spread from the abattoir to the neighbourhood via vectors or animals.

The fact that every problem in environmental studies must be approached in a manner that defines the problem necessitates the use of analytical techniques in the filed or laboratory to produce reliable results.

However, growing population with increase in demand for meat has resulted in increased abattoir relation pollution and has attracted intervention in many developed countries. There is high level of awareness on pollution from animal waste (including abattoir) whether in the farm or in the city and over the years several measures have been put in place to protect the public health and the environment (Merington et al., 1984). According to Robert 2005, in 1992 the European commission introduced a Pan-European fresh meat directive designed to standardize structural and hygiene regulations for abattoirs in all EU countries. The requirement was said to have a pro-found impact on slaughter industry structures in the United Kingdom. Similar intervention was recorded in United Kingdom. Similar intervention was recorded in United States of America with the introduction of Abattoir Act (1988). In the contrary, little intervention or response had been made in the developing nations.



This study was conducted from July 2011 through September 2011 in Abakaliki, the capital city of Ebonyi State in southern Nigeria. Abakaliki lies approximately between 6o 22’26”N and longitude 8o 6’6”E.

The study area is located on the lower belt of the Niger and is traversed by a number of rivers which Iyiudele stream, Iyiokwu river, Ebonyi river, and Okpuru river and it forms a confluence at the southern part of the city. Iyiokwu River was used in this research because it is within the urban and also is affected by waste water from the abattoir and its effluent, it also has high human residents/activities near and around them. It is also pertinent to note that water from this river serve for washing, bathing and most especially irrigation purpose for the medium and small-scale farming which is a major occupation of the people inhabiting the suburbs of Abakaliki.

The city has boundary with Enugu state and Cross-river state at the Northern and Southern entrance. The soil is mostly sandy loam and has some swampy areas especially along river banks during the dry season. It belongs to the order of Ultisol and its land mass is 5,935sqkm.

The climate of the area is tropical in nature and the rainfall of the area is classified among the derived savannah zone of Niger with a bimodal pattern and a short spell in August. There are two distinct seasons: the wet season, which occurs between April and October, and the dry season which takes place from November to March. The mean annual rainfall of the area ranges from 1200mm to 1500mm (Ofomata, 1975) and an average rainfall of about 1600mm.

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The mean annual minimum and maximum temperatures are approximately 23o C and 31o C respectively. The relative humidity of the study area is between 60 to 80% during rainy season (Ofomata, 1975).

The vegetation characteristic is predominantly the semi-tropical rain forest. It is dominated with planted forest of Melina. The predominant grasses are elephant grasses with perennial characteristics of sparse vegetation.



COD – Chemical Oxygen Demand

BOD – Biological Oxygen Demand

DO – Dissolved Oxygen

E-Coli – Escherichia Coliform


Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) is a measure of the oxygen equivalent of the organic matter content of a sample that is susceptible to oxidation by a strong chemical oxidant (ALPHA/AWWA/WEF, 1992). There was statistically significant difference when measurement position 2(S0) was compared with measurement position 3 and 4 (S50 and S100) and also when measurement position 3(S50) was compared with measurement position 4 (S100). There was no statistically significant difference when S-10 was compared with S0, S50 and S100. There was 23.87%d and 26.55% higher COD when S0 was compared with S50 and S100 respectively and 2.16% COD when S50 was compared with S100. The recorded COD values are higher than WHO standard, the high COD value at S0 might be as a result of effluent discharge. High level of COD indicates the presence of chemical oxidants in the effluent and low COD indicates otherwise. High COD could likely cause nutrient fixation in the soil resulting to reduced rate of nutrient availability to plants. In addition, chemical oxidation affects water treatment plants by causing rapid development of rust. This would reduce the service life of the plant. Disposal of such waste into water could reduce the level of oxygen thereby threatening aquatic lives, (Chukwu, 2005).

Dissolved Oxygen concentration (DO) in natural waters depends on the physical, chemical and biochemical activities in the water body. There was statistically significant difference when measurement position 1 (S-10) was compared with measurement position 2,3 and 4 (S0, S50 and S100) but there was no statistically significant difference when measurement position 2 (S0) was compared with measurement position 3 and 4 (S50 and S100), and also when measurement position 3 (S50) was compared with measurement position 4(S100). There was 1.30%, 0.59% and 0.56% higher dissolved oxygen (DO) in S-10 when compared with S0, S50 and S100 respectively. The recorded values of DO are below the WHO standard of 30mg/l for irrigation waters. Discharging the abattoir effluent into river would discourage the breeding of fish. Complete absence of DO results to anaerobic condition, putrefaction and the development of foul odour. DO in liquids provides a source of oxygen needed for the oxidation of organic matter when the concentration is high and lack of it in acute cases may cause the water body to become dead or devoid of aquatic life. Another, important factor is the temperature of the effluent. This is because cold water holds more oxygen in solution than warm water. Thus, since the effluent is always warm at point of discharge, the DO is low. This situation could lead to depletion of life organism in the effluent sink. The relationship of biodegradable wastes to the amount of dissolved oxygen in stream water, therefore, is fundamental to the maintenance of environmental quality along streams that are used for waste disposal. Moderately high DO content is necessary for the maintenance of healthy aquatic ecosystems (Chukwu et al., 2007).

Biological oxygen Demand (BOD) is the most commonly used index in water quality management. It represents the amount of oxygen required for the biological decomposition of organic matter under aerobic condition at a standardized temperature (20oC) and time of incubation (usually 5 days). It is an expression of how much oxygen is needed for microbes to oxidize a given quantity of organic matter.

There was statistically significant difference when S-10 was compared with S0, S50 and S100 and also when S0 was compared with S50 and S100 and equally when S50 was compared with S100, but there was no statistically significant difference when S-10 was compared with S0. There was 1.04% and 8.56% higher BOD when S-10 was compared with S50 and S100 respectively; moreover there was 26.47% and 36.17% higher BOD when S0 was compared with S100. The values of BOD obtained are higher than the 30mg/l of WHO standard.

The results obtained in the E-Coli indicates gross pollution of the water body at the point of abattoir effluents discharge; at this point there was higher E-Coli, than in other points, though based on WHO standard, the whole samples are polluted.


Sample code

Cu Fe Mn Pb Ca/Mg Al Zn

S-10 0.76 0.64 ND 0.002 16.10 ND 15.77

S0 0.04 0.63 0.2 0.03 16.56 ND 15.50

S50 0.96 0.63 0.5 0.01 16.52 ND 16.77

S100 0.57 0.56 0.7 0.001 16.58 ND 19.80

WHO Standard 1.30 0.3 005 0.01 75/50 5


0.05 0.02 0.03 0.13 0.01 0.03 0.01



Cu: Copper

Fe: Iron

Mn: Manganese

Pb: Lead

Ca/Mg: Calcium/Magnesium

Al: Aluminum

Zn: Zinc

ND: Not detected

The mean concentration of copper (Cu) ranged from 0.04 to 0.96mg/l for all the samples. The values obtained are below the WHO standard 1.30mg/l of copper. There was statistically significant difference when S-10 was compared with S0 and S100, and also when S50 was compared with S100; but not statistically significant difference when S-10 was compared with S50; and also when S0 was compared with S50 and S100. There was 33% higher copper when S-10 was compared with S100 and 68.42% higher copper when S50 was compared with S100.

The values recorded for Iron (Fe) are more than WHO standard (0.3mg/l) for iron. There was statistically significant different when S0 and S50 was compared with S100. There was no statistically significant difference when S-10 was compared with S0 and S50 and when S0 was compared with S50. There was 12.5% higher iron in S-10 when compared with S100 and 14.29% when S0 and S50 were compared with S100.

There was no statistically significant difference observed in the case of Manganese (Mn). The mean values ranged from 0.2 to 0.7mg/l and this is above the 0.05mg/l of the WHO standard for manganese.

In the case of Lead (Pb), there was statistically significant difference when S0 was compared with S50 and S100, and also when S50 was compared with S100, but there was no statistically significant difference, when S-10 was compared with S0, S50 and S100. There is a high increase of lead at S0 (the point of the effluent discharge). S50 fall within the WHO standard for lead, while S-10 and S0 have higher values than the standard, and S100 is lower than the standard.

There is an increase in the Calcium/Magnesium at the point of effluent entry (S0) and at S100. There is statistically significant difference only when measurement position 2(S0) is compared with measurement position 3(S50). Other comparisons are non significant. All the values obtained for Ca/Mg are much lower than the 75/50mg/l of the WHO standard for calcium/magnesium.

There was no trace of Aluminum in all the samples analyzed.

The recorded value of the samples for Zinc (Zn) ranges from 15.50 to 19.80mg/l. There was statistically significant difference only when measurement position 1(S-10) was compared with measurement position 2(S0); and the concentration of zinc in all the samples are higher than the WHO standard.



In this research, attempt has been made to expose the effect of abattoir effluent on water quality. The study has four major chapters. In chapter one, the introduction to the effects of abattoir and its effluents was done extensively stating the aims and objectives of this study. The chapter two, which is the literature review on related topics; water as a resource, river pollution in Nigeria, sources of water pollution and their effects, and abattoir with its components, effluents, characteristics of its wastewater and its effects on air, soil, water, aquatic lives and humans. The third chapter has the materials used, the description of the study area, the research design, and the sampling procedures clearly enumerated. Results of the analysis and discussion of the results and it implications are in chapter four while summary, conclusion, appendix and reference are all in Chapter five.

From this study, we found out that so many water quality parameters analyzed had significant difference (P < 0.05), and this implies that these parameters were the parameters of water quality of the stream that had been significantly affected by pollution.


This study shows that the effluent from this abattoir is highly loaded with contaminants that pose an environmental risk to the receiving Iyiokwu river. Hence, the discharge of this abattoir effluent into Iyiokwu river raised the levels of these contaminants thereby putting the river unsafe for usage by residence along the river and for farming activities. Moreover, the levels of DO, BOD, COD, TDS and TSS in the analyzed water, which are the main water quality parameters were above the WHO permissible limits (WHO, 2004).


The following recommendations are made so as to enhance the quality of Iyiokwu River as well as protect the public health of the people who depend on it as a source and also the yield of the farms that uses this river for irrigation.

Simple physical treatment of effluents from the abattoir could be carried out by use of a retention pond. The use of retention ponds for pre-treatment of abattoir effluents is an effective physical treatment method in reducing BOD and COD levels (Sangodoyin and Agbawe, 1992).

Based on the results obtained the abattoir wastewater should be monitored strictly by relevant agencies in order to prevent environmental pollution and reduced health hazards caused by activities of abattoir waste water.

Waste management practice by waste reduction, re-use and recycling should be encouraged when and where appropriate and essential. Entrepreneurs dealing in animal wastes should as bones, manure and blood should be encouraged through enabling government policies to convert abattoir wastes to useful products.

Swift interventions by the government and other stakeholders by putting in place effluent treatment facilities to treat wastes from abattoirs in Nigeria as well as adoption of cleaner technologies will go a long way to curb the environmental health risks posed by these hazardous effluents from abattoirs.

To avert further harm to the aquatic ecosystem, research efforts should be aimed at by-product recovery and dry clean-up so as to reduce the amount of waste water and the actual volume of wastes released from the abattoir, and this research could be expanded to include treat ability of abattoir effluents by biological treatment process.

Abattoir Effluent – Effect On The Physiochemical Properties Of Iyiokwu River In Abakaliki

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  1. Chinonso says:

    Pls I need a standard method to run those physicochemical analysis myself.

  2. This is a topic that is close to my heart… Take care!
    Exactly where are your contact details though?

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  4. Jamilu Bala says:

    Good day and well done for a good job. I read a paper titled Abattoir effluent – Effect on the physico-chemical properties of Iyiokwu River in Abakaliki and found it relevant to my on going research work. Please i need you to help me with names of the author(s) for referencing. I so request please.

    Yours truly,
    Jamilu bala.

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