Being named one of the top five countries that contribute to half of the world’s plastic pollution, it is quite evident that the Philippines has a plastic problem. In fact, a 2015 study revealed that the archipelagic country in Southeast Asia waste over 6,237,653 kilograms of plastic each day.
Fortunately, hopes of a solution to plastic pollution have been raised after bacteria capable of “eating” plastic was discovered in a hyper-alkaline spring in Zambales. Zambales is a province in the Philippines located in the Central Luzon region in the island of Luzon.
Researchers from the biology department of the University of the Philippines-Baguio have discovered four strains of bacteria that are capable of biodegrading low-density polyethylene (LDPE), which is commonly used for plastic bags, cling wrap, shampoo bottles and other containers.
According to a study, written by Denisse Yans dela Torre, Lee delos Santos, Mari Louise Reyes, and Ronan Baculi, published in the Philippine Science Letter, LDPE is “a commonly-used packaging material that is resistant to degradation under natural conditions” and “contributes to environmental pollution.”
The study inferred that the natural alkaline spring in Zambales, Poon Bato Spring, that contains calcium, magnesium, sulfate, chloride, and iron provided the alkaline pH that supports the growth of this bacteria.
The bacterial strains were able to use the LDPE as their sole carbon source. The researchers said four of the nine bacteria that they isolated from the spring significantly reduced the weight of plastic polymer they were introduced to during the 90-day incubation period.
Through enrichment culture procedures, the bacterial strains were able to reduce the weight of plastic between 5.1% to 9.9%
The office of the UP vice president for academic affairs said in a brief about the study:
“Results revealed changes in physical structure and also chemical composition of the films. Another method which determined plastic utilization of the bacteria was the evident decrease in the weight of the films.
Protein analysis also indicated that bacterial cells could live and proliferate with films as the source of energy. Looking at the physical and chemical changes of the plastics before and after some time with the bacterial isolates, it was deduced that these minute organisms can possibly end plastic domination by making a meal out of it,”
With a growing focus on plastics as a major environmental issue, the researchers said their discovery could help to address the problem. Specifically, they pushed for continuing research to determine the distribution and population of polymer-degrading microorganisms.
“This study demonstrated the ability of the isolates to degrade polyethylene even in the absence of prior oxidation treatments.
The results showed that selected microorganisms exhibited great potential for LDPE biodegradation, a discovery which can be used in reducing solid waste currently accumulating in natural environments.”
Unvaccinated Children Are Officially Banned From Public Places In New York
Children must get the MMR vaccine before being allowed in schools, parks, and shopping malls.
A county in New York is taking drastic measures in an effort to prevent a full-blown measles outbreak. The suburb has just banned all unvaccinated children from public places to prevent further infection.
New Zealand School Bans Muslim Students From Wearing Hijab
“All parents sign up to the uniform policies when they join the school,” the principal defended.
A private school in New Zealand recently become the center of controversy after banning hijabs among their Muslim students. According to reports, the Diocesan School for Girls in Auckland has allegedly told Muslim pupils that wearing headscarves a not allowed.
Measles Brought Back To Costa Rica By Unvaccinated French Tourist
The health ministry is currently scrambling to find people who may have been infected by the young boy.
Five years ago, Costa Rica declared that it is free of measles. However, it only took one unvaccinated young tourist to bring the disease back to the country. A young French boy visiting with his family is the first case of the disease in Costa Rica since 2014.
The unnamed boy reportedly arrived in Costa Rica on February 18. He and his mother have not received the MMR vaccine when they arrived in the country. According to reports, the five-year-old was taken by his parents to a private doctor complaining about a "rash." However, it was later revealed that other children who had attended the boy's school in France have come down with measles. This means the child may have already been infected by the time he reached Costa Rica.
The boy may have been infected in his school in France because he was not vaccinated.