Assessment of Quantity and Quality of Microplastics in the Sediments, Waters, Oysters, and Selected Fish Species in Key Sites Along the Bombong Estuary and the Coastal Waters of Ticalan in San Juan, Batangas
Emilyn Q. Espiritu1*, Sophia Angeli SN. Dayrit1, Annabel Soledad O. Coronel1,
Natasha Sophia C. Paz1, Pilar Isabel L. Ronquillo1,
Virgil Christian G. Castillo2, and Erwin P. Enriquez2
1Environmental Science Department
Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City, Philippines
Microplastics (or MPs; < 5 mm in size) pollution is largely unstudied in the Philippines. From an environmental sustainability standpoint, it is important to understand the characteristics, abundance, and environmental fate of plastic debris of various sizes, and these include microplastics that are not more easily and readily detected. In this study, we assessed the extent of microplastics contamination in the sediments, waters, oysters, and selected fishes found in the rivers and coastal areas of Ticalan, Batangas, which were identified from water quality parameters as Class C and CS, respectively. The microplastics were extracted from these samples by chemical digestion of the matrix, series of filtration, and separation by flotation through a density gradient to finally isolate the microplastics which were not dissolved by chemical digestion. The isolated samples were imaged by optical microscopy and characterized based on their descriptive attributes. The results showed the presence of microplastics in all the samples tested, which were found mostly in the form of filaments, fragments, films, and pellets – with most showing weathered, degraded, or angular and irregular surfaces. Identification was done through spectral matching of the Fourier transform infrared spectra of isolated fragments with that of known plastics, although identification in some cases is made uncertain by possibility of degradation of the plastics in the environment. The majority of the isolates showed signature absorption bands of the C-H stretching vibrations of polyethylene-based plastics.
Plastics can be intentionally produced in specifically small sizes (e.g., microbeads in beauty products) or may undergo weathering resulting in the formation of microplastics. MPs, which have size dimensions less than 5 mm, are ubiquitous and continually accumulate in the marine environment, with approximately 8.2 bn kg reported to be entering the ocean every year globally due to improper disposal, runoff, etc. (Wilcox et al. 2015). Due to their high stability and durability, MPs can be persistent pollutants of the marine environment (Cozar et al. 2014), that could reach far distances, thus widening their impact on ecosystems (Ryan et al. 2009). Increasing global plastic production since the 1950s has increased the concern for pollution from such materials (Comăniță et al. 2017). Commercial products and their packaging as single-use plastic items, coupled with the challenge of effective waste management in the Philippines, have exacerbated plastic waste pollution (Ang and Sy-Changco 2007, Magalang 2014, Greenpeace 2017). . . . read more
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