Speciation of heavy metals in paddy soils from selected areas in Kedah and Penang, Malaysia
This study was carried out with the intention of evaluating heavy metal contamination in cultivated paddy areas. The speciation of heavy metals in paddy soils was determined in order to gain insight regarding their origin and distribution in soils. Five sampling sites were randomly selected from Kedah (Yan, Kota Setar, Kubang Pasu district) and Penang (Bumbung Lima district), where the soils constituted marine alluvial deposits. A site in Langkawi, where organic paddy farming is practised was used as the control. The sequential extraction method was adopted in order to obtain the four heavy metal fractions namely the easily leachable and ion exchange (ELFE), acid reducible (AR), oxidizable organic (OO) and resistant (RR) fractions. This study shows that the soil samples were clayey (82 to 96% of grain size <63 μm), fairly high in organic carbon (6.54 to 8.71%) and slightly acidic (pH 4.92 to 5.12). Heavy metal content in the soils varied widely and occurred in the following decreasing order of Fe>Mn>Cr>Cd>Pb>Zn>Cu. Heavy metals such as Pb, Cu, Cr and Zn predominantly occurred in the insoluble form (RR fraction), with the oxides of Fe and Mn incorporated into the clay minerals. Although, the fertilizers and pesticides studied contained low amounts of heavy metals, the elevated amount of amount of Mn and Cd in the soils (ELFE fraction) could possibly be attributed to the longterm and repeated application of these materials to the cultivated paddy areas.
Key words: Heavy metals, paddy soil, pesticide, fertilizer.