Identification of Micro-plastic Contamination in Drinking Water Treatment Plants in Phnom Penh, Cambodia


  • Sandhya Babel Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology, Thammasat University, School of Bio-Chemical Engineering and Technology, Pathum Thani
  • Hakk Dork Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology, Thammasat University, School of Bio-Chemical Engineering and Technology, Pathum Thani



drinking water treatment plant, fluorescent microscope, FT-IR, morphology, Mekong River, Tonle Sap Lake


Micro-plastics (MP) contamination in drinking water has become a global concern. Its negative impacts on human health have been reported. This study identified the presence of MP in two different drinking water treatment plants (WTP) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and investigated their removal efficiency. Samples were collected from the inlet, sedimentation, sand filtration, and distribution tank to quantify the removal by each unit. An optical microscope and a fluorescence microscope were used to detect the MP in four size fractions: 6.5-20, 20-53, 53-500, and >500 m. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) was used to identify the polymer type for particles with size fractions of 53-500 and >500 m. The results showed that the MP counted in WTP1 were 1180.5 158 p/L in the inlet and 521 61 p/L in the distribution tank. In WTP2, the MP counted were 1463 126 p/L in the inlet and 617 147 p/L in the distribution tank. The smaller size fraction of 6.5-20 m predominated at each sampling location. Fragments were the most abundant morphology compared to fibers in all sampling points of both plants. PET predominated and the overall percentages for the inlet tank were 28.8% and 26%, followed by PE with 27.1% and 20.8% in WTP1 and WTP2, respectively. Other common polymer types were PP, PA, PES, and cellophane, while all others accounted for less than 5%. The results of the study showed that a significant number of MP remained in the water distribution system.


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Author Biographies

Sandhya Babel, Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology, Thammasat University, School of Bio-Chemical Engineering and Technology, Pathum Thani


Hakk Dork, Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology, Thammasat University, School of Bio-Chemical Engineering and Technology, Pathum Thani

Graduate student


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How to Cite

Babel, S., & Dork, H. (2021). Identification of Micro-plastic Contamination in Drinking Water Treatment Plants in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Journal of Engineering and Technological Sciences, 53(3), 210307.