Assessment of the impact of industrial effluents on water quality of receiving rivers in urban areas of Malawi

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A study was carried out in Malawi to assess the extent of chemical pollution in a receiving river as affected by industrial effluents. Both the effluents and the water at selected points in the river were analysed for pH, dissolved oxygen, biochemical oxygen demand, electrical conductivity, suspended solids, nitrate, alkalinity, hardness, chloride and phosphate in the dry and rainy seasons. The results showed that the effluents were acidic in both the dry season (range: 4.2 0.02–6.5 0.02) and in the rainy season (range: 4.2 0.05 – 5.6 0.01). While the levels of dissolved oxygen, biological oxygen demand, electrical conductivity, suspended solids, alkalinity and chloride were relatively high in the dry and rainy seasons, the concentration of phosphate and nitrate were low in both seasons. The water upstream was neutral (average pH, 7.40 0.04) with high dissolved oxygen but low in the levels of the other parameters in both seasons. The water after the effluent receiving points was acidic and the levels of the other parameters were high, especially downstream. The results suggested that the water in the river was polluted and not good for human consumption. It is therefore recommended that the careless disposal of the wastes should be discouraged and although the values in some cases were lower than the allowable limits, the continued discharge of the effluents in the river may result in severe accumulation of the contaminants and, unless the authorities implement the laws governing the disposal of wastes, this may affect the lives of the people.

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