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Assessment of the impact of petroleum and petrochemical industries to the surrounding areas in Malaysia using mosses as bioindicator supported by multivariate analysis

Abstract

Biomonitoring of multi-element atmospheric deposition using terrestrial moss is a well-established technique in Europe. Although the technique is widely known, there were very limited records of using this technique to study atmospheric air pollution in Malaysia. In this present study, the deposition of 11 trace metals surrounding the main petroleum refinery plant in Kerteh Terengganu (eastern part of peninsular Malaysia) has been evaluated using two local moss species, namely Hypnum plumaeforme and Taxithelium instratum as bioindicators. The study was also done by means of observing whether these metals are attributed to work related to oil exploration in this area. The moss samples have been collected at 30 sampling stations in the vicinity of the petrochemical industrial area covering up to 15 km to the south, north, and west in radius. The contents of heavy metal in moss samples were analyzed by energy dispersive x-ray fluorescence technique. Distribution of heavy metal content in all mosses is portrayed using Surfer software. Areas of the highest level of contaminations are highlighted. The results obtained using the principal components analysis revealed that the elements can be grouped into three different components that indirectly reflected three different sources namely anthropogenic factor, vegetation factor, and natural sources (soil dust or substrate) factor. Heavy metals deposited mostly in the distance after 9 km onward to the western part (the average direction of wind blow). V, Cr, Cu, and Hg are believed to have originated from local petrochemical-based industries operated around petroleum industrial area.

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Correspondence to Mohd Zahari Bin Abdullah.

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Abdullah, M.Z.B., Saat, A.B. & Hamzah, Z.B. Assessment of the impact of petroleum and petrochemical industries to the surrounding areas in Malaysia using mosses as bioindicator supported by multivariate analysis. Environ Monit Assess 184, 3959–3969 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-011-2236-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-011-2236-y

Keywords

  • Heavy metals
  • Mosses
  • Multivariate analysis
  • Principal component
  • EDXRF