Trace metal exposure and health concerns in Bangladeshi rivers: a seasonal comparison of the Buriganga, Shitalakhya, Meghna, Karnaphuli, and Padma rivers' water, sediment, and fish

Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 Institute of Leather Engineering and Technology, University of Dhaka, Dhaka-1209, Bangladesh

2 Stockholm University, Sweden

3 Unversity of Babes- Bolyai, Romania

4 Southern Illinois University Carbondale, 1230 Lincoln Drive, Carbondale-62901, IL, USA

5 Department of Architecture, Chittagong University of Engineering &Technology, Chittagong-4349, Bangladesh

6 Atomic Energy Centre, Chattogram, Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission, Chattogram 4209, Bangladesh


We determined the levels of nine heavy elements in water, sediment, and the edible tissues of three frequently eaten fish species collected from the five polluted rivers in different divisions of Bangladesh. These samples were randomly taken from five rivers and analyzed by Flame Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy. We found seasonal fluctuations in the hierarchy of mean concentration for different heavy metals in five rivers’ fish, water, and sediments. In the water, the concentrations of Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Pb, Zn, Ni, and Hg ranged from 0.010-0.081, 0.016-5.531, 0.013-2.445, 0.860-22.924, 0.043-1.424, 0.015-0.933, 0.091-1.451, 0.012-2.888, and 0.010-0.032 mg/l where in the sediment the concentrations ranged from 0.1-1.47, 4.21-284.1, 0.12-28.46, 1860-14971.33, 122.1-480.8, 0.84-42.15, 2.14-210.35, 15.3-30.4, and 0.17-10.44 mg/kg. For fishes concentrations ranging from BDL-0.78, 0.04-86.45, 0.01-1.67, 4.19-102, 0.08-0.94, 0.01-0.99, 0.08-9.56, 0.01-4.56, and BDL-0.2 mg/kg were reported for the above metals order respectively. The highest concentration (mean) of Cr and Fe in waters and sediments was 1023 times and 13020.72 % higher than WHO’s standard and Toxicity Reference Values (TRV), respectively. Besides, the bioaccumulation factors (BAF) of the selected elements for the studied fishes were found to be between 0.036-626.25, where the pollution load index (PLI) for the five rivers ranged from 0-0.95 and the concentration factor (CF) found between 0.02-4.03. Estimated daily Intake (EDI) as well as Target hazard quotients (THQs) analyses revealed potential risks for fish consumers, particularly the level of some metals exceeding the WHO/FAO's tolerable limit, which indicates that the rivers' water and fish are dangerous to humankind.


Main Subjects

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