Bacosa bags 2024 NAST Environmental Science Award for microplastics study


The National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) on Tuesday, June 11, awarded Hernando P. Bacosa, Ph.D., of the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT), the 2024 NAST Environmental Science Award at the Manila Prince Hotel in Ermita, Manila.

The Filipino environmental scientist was awarded the prestigious award for his outstanding research entitled, “Breathing  plastics in Metro Manila, Philippines: Presence of suspended atmospheric microplastics in ambient air.”

Bacosa was honored with a plaque of recognition, a P150,000 cash prize from NAST, and a P2 million Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary's Grant for the Environment.

“The study [of Bacosa] may serve as a basis for future research on the possible fate and health effects of suspended atmospheric microplastics in ambient air in Metro Manila settings,” NAST said.

In his presentation, Bacosa acknowledged the contributions of his students and collaborators to his outstanding research.

“And this work was possible with my students and collaborators in MSU-IIT, especially with my advisee, may I call on Mr. Rodolfo Romarate Jr. or JR, who I mentored for two years as a master's student,” the awardee said.

His study, conducted between Dec. 16 and 31, 2021, showed that Mandaluyong and Muntinlupa had the highest number of microplastics among the 17 Metro Manila local government units, while Malabon had the lowest in the metropolis.

In each city, the researchers sampled 864 cubic meters of air during a 12-hour daytime period and identified a total of 155 suspended atmospheric microplastics (SAMPs) across all 17 Metro Manila sampling stations.

DOST Secretary Renato Solidum applauded the 2024 NAS Environmental Science Award winner for investigating the scientific study of microplastics in the atmosphere.

“I would like to congratulate the 2024 winner of the NAS Environmental Science Award, who looked into the application of science in the study of the presence of microplastics in the air, sound bodies of water, as well as important commercial fishes,” he said in his speech.

Solidum emphasized that Bacosa's remarkable contributions are vital for environmental protection.

“I consider the awardee as not the plastic man, but the microplastic man. But he has also other works related to the environment,” he said.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for all the support you have given to DOST and its attached agencies in all our endeavors.”

The DOST chief called on young scientists and researchers to continue being driven to perform excellent research in all academic areas, contributing to the betterment of the environment.

“Continue to inspire the younger generations to pursue careers in science,” Solidum added.

NAST also awarded special citations to two other environmental scientists. They are Rubigilda P. Alili, Ph.D., Associate Professor III at Central Luzon State University, and Ivan Henderson V. Gue, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at De La Salle University-Manila.

Alili was recognized for her study, "Revolutionizing Waterborne Pathogen Surveillance: Unleashing the Potential of Isothermal Amplification-Based Biosensors for Rapid Detection of Schistosoma japonicum and Leptospira spp. in Environmental and Flood Waters." Meanwhile, Gue was honored for his paper titled "Environmentally-Extended Input-Output Analysis of Circular Economy Scenarios in the Philippines."