EMB-ERLSD CONDUCTS BETA-TESTING OF THE DRAFT SEDIMENT COLLECTION MANUALNew!
The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) through the Environmental Research and Laboratory Services Division conducted the “Beta-testing of the draft Sediment Collection Manual” on August 15-19, 2022, at the Axiaa Hotel, West Ave., Quezon City.
This activity aims to determine the effectiveness, efficiency, user-friendliness, and comprehensibility of the SCM, and to solicit feedback from the participants to improve the aforesaid Manual and its training materials. Among the participants of the beta-testing workshop are the EMB technical staff from the Central Office (Environmental Quality Management Division -Water Quality Management Section, Environmental Education and Information Division and the ERLSD) and from the Regional Offices (National Capital Region, Region 3, and Region 4A).
Ms. Ma. Fatima Anngelo R. Moilna, OIC Chief of the ERLSD welcomed the participants and delivered the opening remarks. Thereafter, Engr. Arcely C. Viernes gave an overview of the 5-day activity. She further emphasized the significance of the SCM which was to strengthen the Bureau’s capability to measure and monitor possible contaminants in sediment as well as to harmonize the nation wide’s sediment monitoring activities, specifically the collection of sediment samples to minimize the difficulties in comparing data sets
During the beta-testing activity, the resource person provided a series of lectures which covered the following chapters of the Manual:
Chapter I: Introduction
Chapter II: Reasons for Sediment Collection
Chapter III: Sampling and Field Test Methods and Tools
Chapter IV: Preparing a Sediment Sampling Plan – Planning the Fieldwork
Chapter V: Once in the Field
Chapter VI: Transport and Storage of Sediment Samples
Chapter VII: Data Storage and Organization
For the participants to have an actual experience on sediment sampling, hands-on activity was conducted along Marikina Riverbanks. The program for the hands-on activity includes the following: selection of sampling point, demo on the use of different types of sediment samplers (e.g., scoop method, grab sampler, gravity corer and modified push corer), collection of grab and core sediment samples, processing of samples, and storage and transport of the collected sediments.
After the hands-on activity, feedback session was facilitated by Ms. Louise Vironica D. Jose from the Environmental Research Section of the ERLSD. The participants provided their comments, inputs, and recommendation on each chapter of the Manual. These comments were noted and will be consolidated. Necessary revisions to improve the draft SCM will be made to incorporate the participant’s inputs.
The Environmental Research and Laboratory Services Division (ERLSD) received satisfactory evaluation for its participation in the first round of Mercury Laboratory Proficiency – Asia and the Pacific. This part of the “Project for Promoting Minamata Convention on Mercury by making the most of Japan’s knowledge and experiences” of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) – Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP). The National Institute for Minamata Disease (NIMD) was in-charge of the overall design of the exercise.
The sample analyzed for total mercury on this proficiency testing exercise was human hair collected from multiple people without occupational exposure to mercury. The Environmental Laboratory Services Section (ELSS) of ERLSD analyzed the sample using the Thermal Decomposition, Amalgamation, and Atomic Absorption Spectrometry (TDAAS). The results were then compared with 26 other institutions in the Asia and the Pacific region.
The satisfactory result is an attestation of the diverse laboratory capabilities of the EMB Central Office Laboratory, covering not only environmental samples but also biological samples such as this, as well as its commitment to providing accurate laboratory results under its quality assurance/ quality control protocols.
EMB ERLSD Conducts DENR ELR Awareness Webinar for Regions VI, VIII and IX
Laboratories from Regions VI, VIII and IX attended the DENR Environmental Laboratory Recognition (ELR) Awareness Webinar conducted virtually on 30 August 2022 through Microsoft Teams. The event was participated in by representatives from a total of eight (8) laboratories from these regions, namely:
Boracay Island Water Company
Leyte Agri Corporation
Universidad de Zamboanga – Archie Eustaquio Research Laboratory
Department of Agriculture IX – Regional Soils Laboratory
Present also were the Heads as well as the other laboratory assessors from EMB VI, VIII, and IX Regional Environmental Laboratories (RELs). The members of the DENR ELR Secretariat from the Environmental Laboratory Services Section (ELSS) of ERLSD facilitated the said activity.
Ms. Ma. Fatima Anneglo R. Molina, Chief of the Environmental Research and Laboratory Services Division (ERLSD) welcomed the participants to the said event. She also provided an overview of the DENR Administrative Order No. 63, series of 1998 (DENR AO 98-63) or the Guidelines for the Designation of DENR-recognized Environmental Laboratories as well as the ELR process. Mr. Roger C. Evangelista, Jr. of the ELR Secretariat then presented the requirements of DENR AO 98-63 as well as procedures and forms used in the implementation of the DENR ELR Scheme. Finally, Ms. April Joyce S. Osunero, also from the ELR Secretariat, provided the participants with a discussion of the reference policies for the parameters and methods of analysis covered by the ELR Scheme.
At the end of the presentations, participants raised their questions and clarifications to the ELR Secretariat. Mr. Sammy L. Aytona, Chief of ELSS, facilitated this Q&A portion of the webinar. He also asked the participants about their impressions of the ELR process and requirements to better understand their level of appreciation.
This Awareness Webinar is the 2nd of the three DENR ELR Awareness Webinars at the Regional Level being conducted as part of the efforts of the EMB Central Office through ERLSD in coordination with the EMB RELs in promoting and encouraging more laboratories to be designated as DENR-recognized environmental laboratories. This is to strengthen the implementation of environmental laws by ensuring the availability of testing services from DENR-recognized laboratories anywhere in the country.
EMB CENTRAL OFFICE CONDUCTS 2022 INTERLABORATORY COMPARISON EXERCISES
After two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the EMB, through the Environmental Research and Laboratory Services Division (ERLSD), resumed the conduct of the annual Interlaboratory Comparison Exercises for DENR-EMB Laboratory Analysts. The EMB Central Office Laboratory hosted the said event last 25-29 July 2022.
Prior to the event, the ERLSD sent proficiency testing (PT) samples to all 16 EMB Regional Environmental Laboratories as part of the Interlaboratory Comparison Exercise. In the face-to-face sessions, discussion of selected water quality parameters were carried out as a preparatory activity on the analysis of the PT samples. Nine (9) groups consisting of participants from the EMB Central and Regional Laboratories led the discussion of the identified parameters which included the principle of the methods, procedure for the analysis, reagents and equipment, interferences, calculations and quality assurance/quality control requirements. This is part of the continuing efforts of the EMB to harmonize the testing methodologies not only between EMB and the DENR-recognized environmental laboratories but also between EMB laboratories nationwide. Results of the Proficiency Testing Exercises will be discussed afterwards in a separate forum.
Other activities included the technical updates on new analytical methods established in the EMB Central Office Laboratory such as the analysis of metals from ambient air particulate matter through x-ray fluorescence spectrometry and nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in compost material. Policy updates on air quality and water quality management were also delivered by Resource Persons from key offices of the EMB Central Office.
EMB CONDUCTS FIELD SAMPLING ACTIVITIES AS PART OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE PHILIPPINE SEDIMENT QUALITY GUIDELINES
The EMB through ERLSD’s Environmental Research Section (ERS) will be conducting field sampling activities in Zambales from 27 July to 03 August 2022. This activity is part of the Bureau’s initiative to develop the Interim Sediment Quality Guidelines (SedQGs) for the Philippines. The interim SedQG include selected heavy metals in freshwater sediments based on empirical data derived under local conditions. Aside from sediment chemistry, the project involves multidisciplinary data such as benthic community assessment, ecotoxicology as well as geological and hydrological data in coming up with the suitable sediment guideline values for metals such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, nickel, lead, zinc, and mercury. The project is a collaboration between the Environmental Management Bureau, Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the University of the Philippines – Institute of Biology.
At this phase of the project, the goal is to utilize the initially derived sediment quality guidelines for these metals to assess the sediment quality of the study sites that are potentially impacted by dumpsites. This will serve as a validation activity for the initially derived sediment quality guideline values and its suitability for evaluation of freshwater sediment quality in various aquatic environments.
ERLSD SPEARHEADS CONDUCT OF REMOTE LABORATORY INSPECTION AND ASSESSMENTS
The Environmental Research and Laboratory Services Division, through its Environmental Laboratory Services Section (ELSS), pioneered the conduct of remote laboratory inspection and assessment activities in July 2020. This is part of sustaining the implementation of the DENR Environmental Laboratory Recognition (ELR) Scheme based on the DENR Administrative Order No. 63, series of 1998 even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ELSS, serving as the Secretariat of the DENR ELR Scheme, conceptualized the modified ELR process using the virtual environment to continue the laboratory inspection and assessment activities during the early days of the pandemic. This was a significant leap in the implementation of the ELR guidelines as it allowed for continuous implementation of the ELR process and made the service available to environmental laboratories in the country. It also served as one of the bases for the conduct of remote facility inspections which later on became EMB Memorandum Circular No. 2021-02, or the Adoption of Interim Protocols in the Conduct of Remote Site Activities in the Implementation of all Laws Under the Mandate of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) During the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Laboratories subject for Level 2 assessment or monitoring and reassessment submit the required documents through the official email of the EMB Central Office Records Section and then is transmitted to and processed by the ELR Secretariat through the Integrated Information System (IIS) of the Bureau. Remote assessments are conducted using Microsoft Teams and all documentary submissions are controlled by the ELR Secretariat through the designated cloud storage managed by the EMB. Despite the shift to remote assessment methods, confidentiality of the proceedings are still maintained as an integral part of the ELR process.
ERLSD DRAFTS REVISED GUIDELINES FOR THE DENR ENVIRONMENTAL LABORATORY RECOGNITION SCHEME
The EMB, through the ERLSD, has drafted the revised guidelines for the recognition of laboratories to perform environmental analyses. This is to revise and align the current guidelines, DENR Administrative Order No. 63, series of 1998, with more recent regulations of EMB and also of other government agencies that are relevant in the operation of environmental laboratories.
Virtual consultative meetings were organized in April 14-15, 2021. These were attended by the following stakeholders:
External Assessors of the DENR Environmental Laboratory Recognition (ELR) Scheme from professional organizations such as the Integrated Chemists of the Philippines and the Kapisanang Kimika ng Pilipinas
External Members of the Technical Advisory Group for Laboratory Recognition of the ELR process
Representatives from the Environmental Monitoring and Enforcement Divisions and Regional Environmental Laboratories of the EMB Regional Offices
Heads and Representatives of DENR- and non-DENR-recognized environmental laboratories
This was an additional consultative meeting after the series of consultations conducted in the previous years. The draft policy is now under review of the EMB Policy Technical Working Group.
ERLSD INITIATES REVIEW OF THE METHODS OF SAMPLING AND ANALYSIS FOR AMBIENT AIR AND STATIONARY SOURCE EMISSIONS
As part of the efforts of the EMB to update the methods of analysis for environmental contaminants based on latest technologies and techniques, the ERLSD initiated the review of the methods of sampling and analysis for ambient air and stationary source emission parameters, particularly those contained in DENR Administrative Order No. 2000-81. The updating is envisioned to be similar to EMB Memorandum Circular No. 2016-012 which updated the methods of analysis for parameters regulated for water and wastewater under the Philippine Clean Water Act.
ERLSD reviewed and evaluated a number of existing analytical methods for ambient air and stationary source emission parameters to arrive at the long list of methods for this project. These methods will be shortlisted based on criteria such as traceability to standard methodologies from reputable organizations, environmental impacts from reagents required and wastes generated, and robustness, at minimum.
An Inter-agency Technical Working Group was also created to facilitate the review and shortlisting process. The ITWG is comprised of the ERLSD, the Air Quality Management Section of EMB Central Office, the University of the Philippines – Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology, the Bureau of Philippine Standards, and the Industrial Technology Development Institute of the Department of Science and Technology.