Evaluation of heavy metals in surface water of major rivers in Penang, Malaysia
Alsaffar M. S, Suhaimi Jaafar M., Ahmad Kabir N.
School of Physics, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800 Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Water pollution has an adverse effect on both human and aquatic life; therefore, the assessment and critical observation of water pollution and its consequences have become vital. In this study, total concentrations of Cr, Fe, Pb, Cd, Cu, Mn, Ni, and Zn in water samples were measured by Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-OES) to evaluate the surface water quality of Sungai Muda, Sungai Jarak, Sungai Kerian, and Sungai Kongsi, which are major rivers in Penang, Malaysia. Water properties such as electrical conductivity and pH level were also examined in situ to determine their quality for irrigation purpose. The concentrations of heavy metals were noted to be within the ranges 2–3, 11–549, 7–52, 1–2, 4–6, ND–30, and ND–28 for Cr, Fe, Pb, Cd, Cu, Ni, and Zn, respectively, whereas Mn was not detected in all water samples. These concentrations were found to be in the allowable range according to the Malaysian standards for water quality, except for the concentration of Pb in Sungai Kerian. The concentrations were also determined to be within the limits set by the WHO for drinking water; however, the level of Ni and Pb in Sungai Jarak and that of Pb in Sungai Kerian and Sungai Muda exceeded the permissible limits. The conductivity of surface waters was noted within the range of 72.9 – 1586.3 µS cm–1, whereas the pH values were in the range of 6.63 - 7.16. The metals content in surface water as well as water properties were within safe limits for irrigation in the study area.
Keywords: Heavy metals, Surface water, Risk assessment, Penang rivers.
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