Fish in Banjarmasin Rivers are Full of Microplastics
The Nusantara River Expeditionary Team (ESN) from ECOTON collaborating with the Telapak Association of the South Kalimantan Territory Agency carried out a tour along the river in Banjarmasin City. The river crossing starts from the Kuin River to the Martapura River, to the Barito River on August 26 to September 1, 2022. ECOTON Founder, Prigi Arisandi targets these rivers because they are included in the National River. Because, the upstream and downstream of the river stretches from Central Kalimantan and its downstream in South Kalimantan.
"By using a klothok boat, we went along the river while conducting water quality tests, microplastic tests and mapping of waste generation in the river," explained Prigi Arisandi.
In this expedition, the ESN researcher explained that in addition to taking water samples, his team also took 10 species of fish that are widely consumed by the public, and then tested for microplastic levels. The results of the microplastic test found that the highest microplastic content was found in the stomach of Lais fish, which was 135 microplastic particles in one tail, while the least microplastic content was in Seluang fish, with 18 microplastic particles in one tail.
"The average microplastic content in fish stomachs in the Barito watershed is 53 microplastic particles in one tail," he said.
As for the results of the river water test in the Barito watershed, it was recorded that it was contaminated with microplastics with an average of 56 microplastic particles (PM) in 100 liters of water. The highest content of microplastics at the location of the Martapura river right in front of the proboscis monkey statue, as much as 125 PM/100 liters.
"Microplastics are plastic flakes less than 5 mm in size that come from the breakdown of plastic waste, which is dumped in the Barito river, due to exposure to light and other factors, the plastic waste will be brittle and break up into small crumbs," explained Prigi Arisandi.
Based on the results of the test, Prigi Arisandi, who is also the executive director of this Inspiration, explained that there were three factors that caused water pollution of the Barito river, including:
1. Lack of transportation for pick-up trash services from people's houses to temporary waste collection. In general, cities/districts in Indonesia are only able to serve less than 40% of the population, so 60% of Indonesia's population is not getting pick-up trash services. Then they will generally burn the garbage, pile it up and throw it into the river. Every year, Indonesia throws 3 million tons of plastic waste into the sea through rivers and makes Indonesia the second largest plastic waste contributor after China.
2. Lack of awareness of sorting waste and disposing of waste in its place. The environmental awareness index of the Indonesian population is still low, namely 0.56 on a scale of 0-1, this low level of concern causes Indonesians to throw garbage indiscriminately, including into rivers.
3. Massive use of single-use plastic. Types of single-use plastics such as plastic bags, straws, styrofoam, diapers and plastic bottles are still massively used in Banjarmasin City. There is also ineffective plastic use reduction regulations, as well as plastic reduction regulations without law enforcement. Not only that, Prigi Arisandi conveyed that there was a new threat, because the previous Barito River, according to the National Research and Innovation Agency Research in 2008, stated that the waters of the Barito River estuary were contaminated with heavy metals Mercury, Lead, cadmium, and Copper (Cu) even though the levels did not exceed quality standards.
"If there is no control effort from the government, then there is the potential for an increase in heavy metal levels in the water, plus microplastics in the Barito watershed, which are very dangerous for the Barito river ecosystem," said Prigi.
Prigi said that one of the harmful effects of microplastics in the human body is diabetes mellitus, decreased sperm quality and quantity and early menopause.
"Therefore, the presence of microplastics must be controlled by stopping the use of single-use plastics and controlling plastic waste so that it does not enter the river," he concluded.