More research needed to study microplastics found in bangus intestines

“Estimating dietary exposure to microplastics is not possible. Due to the absence of particle toxicity data for microplastics, it is currently not feasible to estimate the potential hazards associated with microplastic particles in food,” Dr. Rey Y. Capangpangan, an NRCP lead researcher said.

Capangpangan’s research, funded by the Department of Science and Technology-National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NRCP), shows that out of the 383 suspected particles from 30 Bangus individuals from sampling sites in a selected site in Mindanao, 235 (61.36%) were confirmed to be microplastics. The results found concentrations of microplastics in the fish, indicating the pervasiveness of plastic pollution in the aquatic environment.

“It is not enough to count microplastics. There’s a need to have a harmonized protocol about its toxicity threshold level to identify its effect on humans,” Capangpangan added.

In photo: Ms. Kaye M. Similatan, a Masters research collaborator from MSU-IIT, examining the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of a Bangus sample

Microplastics have been shown to induce a sense of fullness in fish, potentially reducing their appetite and hindering their ability to consume sufficient nutrients for normal growth.

“While microplastics themselves may not be inherently toxic, their chemical nature allows them to attract and accumulate other toxic substances on their surfaces. When microplastics with attached toxic substances are ingested, they pose a potential threat to human health”, Marybeth Hope Banda, member of the research team, said.

Capangpangan reaches out to other researchers in the same field to collaborate and craft a standardized protocol regarding microplastics’ effect when ingested by humans.

“The research data can help policymakers see the extent of microplastic pollution and start crafting policies for its mitigation”, Capangpangan said.

In the data of the Buruea of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in 2020, milkfish production contributed 17.9% to total fisheries production and Php 43.5 billion to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The same report says that of an average Filipino household’s annual fish consumption, about 10% of the 36.8 kg is milkfish.

Dr. Capangpangan’s research is one of the ongoing projects of NRCP under  Saganang Pagkain para sa Lahat (SAPAT) program of the National Basic Research Agenda (NIBRA).

NRCP invites researchers, scientists, and innovators to join the Council for the 2024 Annual Scientific Conference and 91st General Membership Assembly on 12 March 2024 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC). (Venus Abigail D. Gutierrez, S&T media service)