Evaluation of water pollution and source identification in Merbok River Kedah, Northwest Malaysia


  • Ateshan Msahir Haidr Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris
  • Misnan Rosmilah Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1349-2193
  • Sinang Som Cit Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris
  • Koki Baba Isa Yusuf Maitama Sule University Kano




Multivariate analysis, Water quality, Pollution, Principal component analysis, River


This study investigates the temporal water quality variations and pollution sources identification in Merbok River using principal component analysis. The variables analyzed include As, Cd, Pb, Fe, Cr, Mn, Zn, Ni, Ca, Mg, Na, K, NH4, F, Cl, Br, NO2, NO3, SO4, PO4, pH, BOD, DO, COD, turbidity, and salinity. These variables were analyzed using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, ion chromatography, and YSI multiprobe. Principal component analysis (PCA) was utilized to evaluate the variations of the most significant water quality parameters and identify the probable source of the pollutants. From the results of PCA, 86% of the total variations were observed in the water quality data with strong dominance of toxic heavy metals (As, Pb, and Cr), parameters associated with industrial discharge, domestic inputs, overland runoff (NH4, pH, BOD, DO, COD), agrochemicals (NO2, NO3, SO4, PO4), and weathering of basement rocks (Ca, Mg, Cl, F, K, and Na). Most of these parameters were present in concentrations exceeded the reference standards limits used in this study, indicating pollution of the river water. Together with the presence of microbial contamination, the results suggest potential human health risk due to water uses, fish and shellfish consumption. Moreover, the results revealed that anthropogenic activities and weathering were the main sources of pollutants in Merbok River. 


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