Industrial wastewater discharged into aquatic ecosystems either directly or because of inadequate treatment of process water can increase the concentrations of pollutants such as toxic metals and others, and subsequently deteriorate water quality, environmental ecology and human health in the Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DEPZ), the largest industrial belt of 6-EPZ in Bangladesh. Therefore, in order to monitor the contamination levels, this study collected water samples from composite effluent points inside DEPZ and the surrounding surface water body connected to effluent disposal sites and determined the environmental hazards by chemical analysis and statistical approach. The water samples were analysed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry to determine 12 trace metals such as As, Ag, Cr, Co, Cu, Li, Ni, Pb, Se, Sr, V and Zn in order to assess the influence of multi-industrial activities on metal concentrations. The composite effluents and surface waters from lagoons were characterized by a strong colour and high concentrations of biochemical oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand, electrical conductivity, pH, total alkalinity, total hardness, total organic carbon, Turb., Cl−, total suspended solids and total dissolved solids, which were above the limit of Bangladesh industrial effluent standards, but dissolved oxygen concentration was lower than the standard value. The measurement of skewness and kurtosis values showed asymmetric and abnormal distribution of the elements in the respective phases. The mean trend of variation was found in a decreasing order: Zn > Cu > Sr > Pb > Ni > Cr > Li > Co > V > Se > As > Ag in composite industrial effluents and Zn > Cu > Sr > Pb > Ni > Cr > Li > V > As > Ag > Co > Se in surface waters near the DEPZ. The strong correlations between effluent and surface water metal contents indicate that industrial wastewaters discharged from DEPZ have a strong influence on the contamination of the surrounding water bodies by toxic metals. The average contamination factors were reported to be 0.70–96.57 and 2.85–1,462 for industrial effluents and surface waters, respectively. The results reveal that the surface water in the area is highly contaminated with very high concentrations of some heavy/toxic metals like Zn, Pb, Cu, Ni and Cr; their average contamination factors are 1,460, 860, 136, 74.71 and 4.9, respectively. The concentrations of the metals in effluent and surface water were much higher than the permissible limits for drinking water and the world average concentrations in surface water. Therefore, the discharged effluent and surface water may create health hazards especially for people working and living inside and in the surrounding area of DEPZ.
Trace metalsEffluentSurface waterContaminationVicinity of DEPZStatistical approach