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DENR-ERDS introduces anti pollutant technology

By Jojo Lamaria

BAGUIO CITY, Oct. 30 (PNA) – The Ecosystems Research and Development Services (ERDS) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DERNR) Cordillera is introducing a low-cost and environmentally sound green technology to rid contaminated land and water systems of pollutants.

Phytoremediation is an alternative means using plants in cleaning land and water systems.

ERDS-DENR Science Research Specialist II Randy S. Tubal, in an interview today, October 30, said the technology is already popularized worldwide and now also being used in the different parts of the country.

The United Nations Environment Programme defines phytoremediation as the direct use of living green plants for removal, degradation or containment of contaminants in soils, sludges, sediments, surface water and groundwater, he said.

The technology works with plants equipped with remarkable chemical processing and absorption capabilities as well as transport systems which can take up nutrients or contaminants selectively either from soil and water, Tubal added.

Tubal said these plants extract the contaminants in the soil or water then assimilates it in the plants.

It reduces toxicity of the contaminant degrading it to less harmful by-products and transforming the contaminants into a stable, non-mobile, non-harmful compound, he adds.

The said green technology restores balance in the ecosystem and curbs stressed environment.

Effective in sites with low to moderate levels of contaminant concentrations, the technology is available to a broad range of contaminants including metals, radio nuclides or radioactive contaminants found in water, as well as organic and inorganic compounds, Tubal said.

One of its advantages over other technologies is that it is performed without removal of the contaminated soil or water and requires less maintenance and fewer external energy inputs, he said.

Apart from its clean up mechanism, it improves aesthetics of the area and creates habitat.

Tubal said there are numerous plant species identified and tested for their traits in the uptake and accumulation of different heavy metals, organic and inorganic pollutants which he named as the Sword Brake Fern, the Lubigan or Acorus Calamus which grows well in wet soil or marshy places sequesters cadmium, copper, lead, mercury.

The Kangkong which grows as weed in rivers, ponds and freshwater could be used to treat agro-industrial waste water polluted with ethion, a chemical used in agriculture as a pesticide.

Wild sunflower which has become weed in waste places impounds cadmium, chromium, copper, nickel, and manganese.

In planning a phytormediation project, Tubal stressed the need to do preliminary assessment to determine the extent of contamination, look for obvious physical signs of contaminations and get more water samples for extensive analysis. (PNA)

CTB/JL/JSD

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