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Riza Magitang

Magbitang, Riza_7289.jpg

Riza obtained her BSc in Chemistry from the University of Philippines in 2008. 

In 2021, Riza joined the Marine Science MSc program at USM.

Investigating the potential for Submarine Groundwater Discharge to serve as a source of biological contaminants

Submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) can act as a material transport pathway connecting terrestrial and coastal aquatic environments. SGD has been linked to algal blooms and fish kill events (due to hypoxia), which are both attributed to SGD’s elevated nutrient input or high oxygen demand of nutrients in SGD. Aside from nutrients and other anthropogenic pollutants (i.e., pesticides, caffeine, and pharmaceutical compounds), SGD is also able to transport pathogens that are present in wastewater systems to the coastal environment.

Enterococci is one of the fecal indicator bacteria being monitored to evaluate water quality. Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is monitoring enterococci in twenty-one sites along the MS coast and warns the public of the increased risk to human health whenever the Enterococci level is exceeding the threshold (104 CFU/mL). 

Riza is developing a new rapid detection method to improve the response time to Enterococci contamination events. The method is being applied to field samples taken at several coastal sites with varying levels of SGD (i.e., positive 222Rn anomalies). The results of which will contribute to a better understanding as to whether SGD serves as a source of biological contaminants to MS coastal environments, which has implications for coastal maricultural and recreational water management.

This work is in collaboration with Alan Shiller at USM.

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