International workshop “Microplastics” held by Faculty of Technology, a warning on microplastic pollution in Sai Gon River

(VLU, 21/6/2021– According to the urgent of plastic and microplastics (MPs) problems, Faculty of Technology cooperated with Thammasat University, Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology – Thailand, and Asia-Pacific Network (APN) co-organized an international online workshop on the topic "Microplastics", with the participation of 296 researchers and experts in the field of environment over the world.

Recently, the abundance and impact of MPs become a major concern about the environment in the world. Preliminary studies have revealed many harmful effects of MPs to organisms when ingested. MPs can play a role as a carry-medium of endocrine disruptors and other pollutants from the environment to the organism.

The international scientific workshop on Microplastics on June 2, 2021 was led by 3 keynote speakers: Dr. Mushtaq Ahmed Memon – Regional Coordinator for Resource Efficiency, United Nation Environment Program; Dr. Novrizal Tahar - Director of Solid Waste Management, Indonesia Ministry of Environment and Forest and Dr. Nguyen Trung Viet - Former Head of Solid Waste Management Department, Ho Chi Minh City Department of Natural Resources and Environment; Former Dean of Faculty of Environmental Technology and Management - Van Lang University.

vlu khoa cong nghe to chuc hoi thao quoc te vi nhua d

Most of the current research on MPs is conducted for developed countries such as Europe, North America and East Asia. While Southeast Asia is facing significant challenges in the plastic waste management. In the top 10 countries with improperly plastic waste management, there are 5 countries in ASEAN. Vietnam is estimated and assessed as the 5th largest country in the world with plastic waste dumped into the ocean https://vietnam.panda.org/en/our_work/oceans/plastics/). Therefore, understanding the current status of plastic/ MPs pollution in the environment and the absorption of organisms has become a very important issue.

vlu khoa cong nghe to chuc hoi thao quoc te vi nhua aFunded by APN, Faculty of Technology, Van Lang University in collaboration with international training units, the workshop attracted nearly 300 scientists and researchers in the field of environment from around the world.

The objective of the current project is to assess the abundance of MPs in some major rivers in 3 countries in Southeast Asia: Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. The workshop was organized to summarize preliminary results of the research activities, attracting 296 participants who are experts in the field of environment from countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, Sri Lanka, India, China, Bhutan, USA and some European countries. There are 17 presentations in this workshop related to the plastic waste generation and management, the level of MPs pollution in major river sections in big cities and the removal efficiency of the sewage treatment plants in eliminating MPs from.

The Vietnamese representative from Faculty of Technology - Van Lang University, Dr. Nguyen Thi Phuong Loan presented the results in accessing the level of microplastics pollution in the Saigon River. The results showed that the number of MPs in the Saigon River in the dry and rainy season is about 93 and 154 pieces of MPs/m3 of water, respectively. The main component of MPs is PP (Polypropylene) and PE (Polyethylene). The Saigon River is the water source of the Tan Hiep water treatment plant (the factory responsible for supplying water to the western area in Ho Chi Minh City). Currently, there is no research showing that the current water treatment technology can ensure the quality of treated water in terms of MPs. Therefore, the issue of plastic waste management as well as water management is the key to solving this urgent problem.

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In addition, the workshop provided information on the MPs treatment efficiency of the sewage treatment plants in Ho Chi Minh City, Thu Dau Mot and Da Lat conducted by the research team of Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology (HCMUT). The results show that the traditional technologies including sedimentation, biological treatment with the activated sludge technology or the sequence biological reactor (SBR) have the MPs removal efficiency up to 80%.

As part of the project's research scope, the Thai and Indonesian partners also presented the research results, showing the numbers of microplastics found in major rivers. According to these data, the main reason of MPs generation is the improperly solid waste management in general, and plastic waste management in particular. Under the environmental and human effects, plastic waste could be fragmented into MPs which entering water sources, causing serious impacts on aquatic ecosystems as well as affecting human health. So, what is the optimal solution to reduce MPs pollution levels? The main opinions of experts in the workshop agreed that the proper collection, treatment and recycling of plastic waste and the circular economy model could help us to solve this big problem.

vlu khoa cong nghe to chuc hoi thao quoc te vi nhua cThe Environmental Technology and Engineering student conducted their internship about MPs analysis at Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology (SIIT)

The Faculty of Technology, Van Lang University has carried out this project since 2017, demonstrating the dynamism in research and updating the world issues in identifying new types of pollution in the environment. Moreover, students of the Environmental Technology and Engineering major of Van Lang University have participated in this international project, and travelled to other countries to exchange, study and practice MPs analysis techniques. This is the training method that the Faculty of Technology pursues to create value for students: “Learning through experience”.

Dr. Huynh Tan Loi
Faculty of Technology


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