ABSTRACT A detailed investigation was conducted on the relationship between land use patterns and trace metal content in surface soils of the Benue State to assess soil environmental quality. Results revealed that metals levels were generally high in mineralized and urban soils and lower in agricultural soils whilst forest soils were lease by anthropogenic pollution. Mineralized soils developed from weathered sulphides were rich in lead (Pb), zinc (Zn), and cadmium (Cd). Urban soils accumulated copper (Cu), Zn, and Cd most probably from refuse dumps, gasoline combustion and farming. Agricultural soils were enriched in arsenic (As) and to a lesser degree Pb and Cd originating most probably from the application of pesticides, manure and fertilizers. A pollution index (PI) based on plant-tolerant contamination levels, indicates that multi-element contamination in soils is low and implies that the sampled soils could be cultivated for crop production especially away from point sources of pollution. The degree of anthropogenic pollution was high for As (80%), and Pb (54%), moderate for Zn (47%), Cd (40%), and low for Cu (27%). Correlations (r) are significant between Zn- Pb (0.7), Cu-As (0.6) in mineralized soils, between Zn-Cu (0.64), Zn-Cd (0.5), Cu-Cd (0.6), in urban soils, As-Cd (0.61), in agricultural soils and Zn-Pb (0.82) in forest soils. These distinct relationships indicate a common source or similar geochemical control. Based on the overall evaluation, recommendation in respect of contamination, control and monitoring strategies as well as land use planning in the study area are presented.
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