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Water fern (Salvinia molesta) shows potentials in removing water pollutants

Salvinia Molesta, an aquatic fern

 “Poor sanitation greatly contributes to water pollution in the Philippines leading to higher cost of water and secondly, affecting our rivers and lakes in terms of the reduction and production of aquatic life. This calls for a feasible, inexpensive and sustainable solution,” stressed Mr. Francis Dale G. Acenas of the Dr. Jose P. Rizal School of Medicine, Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan during the 2nd Student Research Competition at the 6th Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) Week last August 9, 2012 at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Pasay City.

Mr. Acenas, together with Ms. Liezel T. Morales, Ms. Alessandra Kamille P. Mallari, Mr. Cris S. Dedumo, Ms. Nafie O. Macarimbang, Ms. Sheila Mae P. Trozo, Ms. Katherine Ruth S. Beltran, Mr. Nasser A. Jawadil, Ms. Ethel Yen C. Sison, and Mr. Ryan Rey L. Zarate won the first prize in the competition

for their research entitled, An experimental study on the efficacy of aquatic fern (Salvinia molesta) in the treatment of blackwater effluent from a constructed wetland, Cagayan de Oro City. The study aimed to determine the efficiency of Salvinia molesta (water fern)to remove water pollutants in black water sewage from a constructed wetland.

“Pathogen concentrations remain too high for unrestricted irrigation in constructed wetlands. There is a need for a tertiary treatment to eliminate the pathogens,” explained Mr. Acenas.

In a fifteen-day exposure to Salvinia molesta, the researchers determined the amount of changes and the removal of water pollutants in terms of activity of hydrogen ion, dissolved oxygen, total suspended solids, Chromium, Nitrate, Sulfate, Phosphate, Plankton and fecal coliforms.

Results of the study showed that Salvinia molesta is a highly efficient aquatic plant for the removal of total suspended solids (30.77%), dissolved oxygen (74.70%) and fecal coliform (48.95%). However, Salvinia molesta had no effect on pH, Chromium, Nitrates, Sulfates, Phosphates and Plankton.

“We recommend that a small-scale model of constructed wetland be conducted with Salvinia molesta as our tertiary step treatment. We also want to recommend that a biological or chemical analysis be done on the plant itself to compare the absorption of pollutants between in-vitro and in-situ settings,” concluded Mr. Acenas.