PlastiCount trainees shared their learnings to WWRRDEC co-researchers on October 17, 2022 at the WWRRDEC Conference Room.

Three (3) WWRRDEC technical personnel who attended the PlastiCount Training last September 28 to October 7, 2022, shared their learnings with co-researchers before field exposure for the Microplastic Case Study.

During the table discussion on October 17, 2022, Supervising Science Research Specialist Rej Winlove Bungabong highlighted the goals of the PlastiCount Pilipinas Project to increase local capacity for monitoring plastics pollution in the coastal and marine environments.

Accordingly, the Center could greatly contribute to this goal through the formulation of proposals relative to microplastics in water systems.

Meanwhile, Ms. Kimberly Ann T. Alanano, Chemist II, discussed the methodology for processing microplastics in the laboratory while Ms. May Ann Espiritu, Laboratory Technician III, shared the systematic procedures for collecting aqueous and sediment samples on site.

Short orientation was done prior to sampling activities at Brgy. Tuel, Tublay, Benguet on October 21, 2022.
WWRRDEC researchers, with UP-MSI and PENRO Benguet Staff, conducted aqueous and sediment sampling at Brgy., Balili, La Trinidad, Benguet (left photo) and at Brgy. Tuel, Tublay, Benguet (right photo) on October 21, 2022.

After the capacitation activity, the team together with the PlastiCount Pilipinas project team and PENRO Benguet Staff conducted a collection of samples in two upstream sites of the Balili River on October 21, 2022, as part of the activities for the Case Study. The two sampling sites are located in Km 5, Brgy. Balili, La Trinidad, Benguet and in Brgy. Tuel, Tublay, Benguet. These sampling sites were selected based on their current land use characteristics. Selected sampling site in Brgy. Tuel is the catchment area of most agricultural land areas of Tublay, while the sampling site in Brgy. Balili serves as the catchment area of urban areas of Baguio City and La Trinidad, Benguet.

Part of the sampling activities is the establishment of 100 meter transect line along the river bank (left photo) and collection of water sample after towing of plankton net (right photo).

A total of 12 water samples were collected through water grab sampling and plankton net towing. Likewise, a total of 72 sediment samples were collected from the left and right riverbanks of the 2 sampling sites.

These samples will be processed at the WWRRDEC Soil and Water Laboratory to quantify and characterize the types of microplastics that are present in the upstream of Balili River. Further analysis of collected samples through Nile Red staining and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) will be conducted at the Microbial Oceanography Laboratory of the University of the Philippines- Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) in Bolinao, Pangasinan.

Microplastics are plastic materials that are less than 5 millimeters (mm) in diameter or about the size of a sesame seed.

The results of the case study are hoped to provide relevant information for the management of the Balili River.

A quadrat was used during sediment sampling (left photo) while portable multi-parameter was used on site to gather several water quality parameters of the river during sampling (right photo).
PlastiCount Pilipinas Project Team of UP-MSI (leftmost) during their visit at WWRRDEC Office on October 22, 2022.

Future opportunities and collaborations on micro and macro plastics research among WWRRDEC, UP- MSI, and other stakeholders were discussed. (WWRRDEC- Rej Winlove M. Bungabong, Sharmaine L. Egalla, Shirley Jaene S. Valdez)