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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Biotechnology is key to address water pollution

Microorganisms may help decrease pollution in rivers through a process called bioremediation.

Bioremediation—the use of organisms or their metabolic processes/products to convert harmful substances to products which can be safely released to the environment or can be recovered and reused, is one of the applications of biotechnology.

Dr. Lorele Trinidad, university researcher at National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH), University of the Philippines Los Baños presented during the Science and Technology Forum on 22 November 2011, a study which uses biogenic hydrogen sulfide precipitation technology using Sulfate Reducing Bacteria called SRB 15, (consortia of bacteria) to remove heavy metals from wastewater. The event was sponsored by Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in celebration of the 7th National Biotechnology Week (NBW)

Heavy metals are elements with metallic properties such as luster, ductility, malleability, and conductivity of heat and electricity and have a specific gravity greater than 4, which are known to be toxic to humans at certain levels.

The study shows that Biogenic Hydrosulfide Technology is a promising biological technological intervention strategy for the remediation of copper 2 (Cu2), lead 2 (Pb2), zinc 2 (Zn2), and chromium 6 (Cr6) contaminated wastewater at laboratory scale.

The research was funded through a grant from Philippine Council for Industry and Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCIEERD).

The gold smelting and tanning industries in Bulacan which discharge effluents with heavy metals into the Marilao, Meycauayan and Obando (MMO) river system collaborated in the research project.

Other topics discussed during the forum were: Tools and Techniques in Genomic Research, Pharma from the Seas, Detecting Abaca Bunchy Top virus thru Immuno-based Assay System, Checking Water Quality Using Microarray Technology, and Biological and Ozone-based Processes as treatment for Industrial Wastewater which were in line with the theme:“Bioteknolohiya para sa Kalikasan, Kalusugan, Kagandahan, Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran. OK ang 5K sa Biotech: Suportahan at Tangkilikinnatin!”

The forum was cosponsored by the other DOST agencies such as PCIEERD, Technology Application and Promotion Institute (TAPI), Philippine Council for Agriculture Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) and Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD).

The 2011 National Biotechnology Week is a partnership of different government offices which include the DOST, Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Trade and Industry, Commission on Higher Education, and this year’s co-chairs—Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Department of Health.

The NBW was first held in 2005 and was institutionalized to be celebrated every last week of November through Proclamation No. 1414 issued by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2007. Luisa Lumioan, S&T Media Service

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