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DOST labs offer affordable testing services

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Did you know that clear, sparkling water does not necessarily mean that it is safe to use?

 

Often, the chemical, physical, and biological contaminants present in water cannot be seen by the naked eye.

This is why faster and more effective procedures to detect contamination has become very important. And with the booming bottled water and food processing businesses, testing services for water quality has become more in demand.

The Regional Standards and Testing Laboratory established by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-RSTL) in Region 3 offers fast and reliable water quality analysis using international laboratory standards and state-of-the-art testing equipment.

 

After passing a series of assessments to determine the competence of its laboratory staff and its compliance to international laboratory procedures, the DOST-RSTL located in San Fernando, Pampanga was granted the PNS ISO/IEC 17025:2005 accreditation by the Philippine Accreditation Office in March 2009. This means that all analyses conducted by the RSTL are recognized and accepted around the world.

 

This is good news especially for micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) engaged in water and food processing enterprises in the region and nearby provinces that need to comply with the requirements of the international market.

 

To maintain this accredited status, the DOST-RSTL laboratory staff undergo regular international proficiency examinations to improve their technical capabilities. DOST also maintains the acquisition of new equipment and upgrading of existing ones to ensure reliable testing results.

 

This assures the public who avails the services of the laboratory of quality results all the time. The range of services offered by the laboratory includes physical, chemical, and microbiological analysis of food, feeds, water, and wastewater and plants. It can also issue formula of conversion certificate for importers and exporters. Meanwhile, the staff complement is composed of licenses chemists and accredited microbiologists.

 

The DOST-RSTL is located at the Diosdado Macapagal Regional Government Center, Maimpis, City of San Fernando, Pampanga. For more information, contact telephone numbers 045-4550594. 

 

DOST eyes new materials for handicrafts, furniture

 

Several decades ago, the Philippine forests were among the richest in the world — both in density and diversity of tree species. However, thru time, our forest resource base has declined at an alarming rate, adversely affecting the raw material supply of various industries, particularly the handicraft and furniture sectors.

 

In a bid to save these sectors from decline, the Department of Science and Technology’s Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI) is looking for new sources of raw materials for said industries, revealed Dr. Ramiro P. Escobin, Scientist I at DOST-FPRIDI’s Anatomy and Forest Botany Section.

 

Escobin, one of the pioneers of raw materials research that commenced almost 10 years ago, lamented, “At present, our furniture and handicraft industries are experiencing extreme shortage of raw materials and alternative solutions must be sought in order for these industries to survive”.

 

In recent years, FPRDI has explored lesser-used non-timber forest products (NTFP) that are good substitutes for traditional raw materials. Regarded in the past as either weeds or low-value products, these “new” raw materials are relatively heavy in volume and have qualities similar to traditional ones.

 

Climbing bamboos, for example, are a potential alternative to rattan and conventional wood. Traditionally tapped for low-end uses such as banana cue sticks, trellises, and fruit and vegetable containers (“kaings”), climbing bamboos have been made into handles of elegant ladies’ bags and furniture parts.

 

Like climbing bamboos, forest vines are one of the least studied plant groups despite their promising use as wall decors, trays, vases, and other handicraft items for export. This commodity can be an added source of income especially for rural and forest dwellers. Basic information on how to maximize the use of forest vine has been compiled at DOST-FPRDI and used for further research.

 

The Institute is also giving ample research efforts to other “new” raw materials, such as industrial tree plantation species; fiber plants that can be fashioned into high-value handbags, mats and hats; water hyacinth, a plant that clogs many of our rivers and lakes but can be turned into varied handicrafts and used as an embellishment in chairs and tables; and the fruits, flowers, roots, and seeds of many untapped native plants, among others.

 

Aside from investigating new sources of materials, FPRDI also studies the processing of NTFPs, including preservation and drying techniques to make them pest-resistant, appealing, and useful.

 

“Thru our studies, we help our clients sustain their businesses by introducing to them a wide array of raw materials that were once unknown to them. We are hopeful that more entrepreneurs would be encouraged to venture into the furniture and handicraft business thru the aid of FPRDI’s technologies,” FPRDI Director Romulo Aggangan said.

 

To date, the Institute has already published various sourcebooks and identification manuals to introduce untapped plant materials to existing and would-be entrepreneurs in the handicraft and furniture business.

 

FPRDI’s research on “new” raw materials is carried out through the assistance of DOST’s Provincial Philippine Science and Technology Center and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Community and Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Offices.

 

With the Filipino craftsman’s ingenuity coupled with technological intervention from FPRDI, Philippine handicraft and furniture industries can look forward to a sturdier, more colorful future. Meanwhile, FPRDI will continue to improve the use and value of wood and non-wood forest products for its client industries following its mandate. -30- Apple Jean C. Martin, S&T Media Service

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