Multivariate statistical techniques such as multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and discriminant analysis (DA) were applied for analyzing the data obtained from two rivers in the Penang State of Malaysia for the concentration of heavy metal ions (As, Cr, Cd, Zn, Cu, Pb, and Hg) using a flame atomic absorption spectrometry (F-AAS) for Cr, Cd, Zn, Cu, Pb, As and cold vapor atomic absorption spectrometry (CV-AAS) for Hg. The two locations of interest with 20 sampling points of each location were Kuala Juru (Juru River) and Bukit Tambun (Jejawi River). MANOVA showed a strong significant difference between the two rivers in terms of heavy metal concentrations in water samples. DA gave the best result to identify the relative contribution for all parameters in discriminating (distinguishing) the two rivers. It provided an important data reduction as it used four parameters (Zn, Pb, Cd and Cr) affording 100% correct assignations. Results indicated that the two rivers were different in terms of heavy metals concentrations in water, and the major difference was due to the contribution of Zn. A negative correlation was found between discriminate functions (DF) and Cr and As, whereas positive correlation was exhibited with other heavy metals. Therefore, DA allowed a reduction in the dimensionality of the data set, delineating a few indicator parameters responsible for large variations in heavy metal concentrations. Correlation matrix between the parameters exhibited a strong evidence of mutual dependence of these metals.
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