Bacteria and biotechnology can clean up PHL water pollution
BARBARA MARCHADESCH January 19, 2012 3:32pm
Bacteria have a well-earned reputation for causing disease, but now certain types of microorganisms are being put to good use by improving water cleanliness and safety.
Waste water produced by factories is contaminated with heavy metals—elements that are naturally present in our bodies in small amounts, but which can be extremely dangerous to humans at higher levels of concentration.
To clean this industrial waste water, it is put through the process of bioremediation, or the use of microorganisms to treat water that has been contaminated by hazardous materials. Water that has been cleaned by this method can then be released into the environment or even reused.
One method of bioremediation is called biogenic hydrogen sulfide precipitation technology.
Research conducted by the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH) of the University of the Philippines at Los Baños found that this strategy can treat and remove heavy metal contaminants such as copper, lead, zinc and chromium from industrial waste water at the laboratory level.
These findings were relayed by BIOTECH researcher Dr. Lorele Trinidad at a seminar organized by the DOST in conjunction with National Biotechnology Week in November 2011 at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources compound in Diliman, Quezon City. The forum’s theme was “Bioteknolohiya para sa Kalikasan, Kalusugan, Kagandahan, Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran”.
The institute’s research was funded by the Philippine Council for Industry Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCIEERD). The towns of Marilao, Meycauayan and Obando in Bulacan participated in the project; their river system had been polluted by effluents from local gold smelting and tanning industries.
DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo believes that biotechnological methods such as bioremediation can be powerful tools in addressing many of our issues, including ensuring water safety and protecting the health of Filipinos.
“Today’s society faces lingering and emerging challenges, underscoring the importance of utilizing new and proven technologies in developing solutions. Biotechnology can deliver such solutions," he says. "It is a catalyst for progressive change that should be fully utilized in improving and advancing the quality of the Filipino’s life and environment." — TJD, GMA News