DOH clarifies white sand in Manila Bay not a health hazard

The Department of Health clarified Wednesday that dolomite, the white sand used in Manila Bay, is in bulk state and would be a health hazard.

The initially warned the public against the respiratory illnesses that could be caused by the crushed dolomite rocks.

“Dolomite in its bulk state is not a known health hazard and dolomite in dust form, like any other dust particle, can lead to symptoms such as chest discomfort, shortness of breath, and coughing for this is our body’s normal reaction to irritants,” the said in a statement.

On Monday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire warned inhaling crushed dolomite may cause respiratory risks.

“Ito pong dolomite, base po sa pag-aaral, kapag na-inhale natin ito, may mga adverse reaction [sa] respiratory system, mainly,” the official said in an online briefing.

“Based on studies and medical literature, it can cause respiratory issues to a person. Kapag napunta sa mata, magkakaroon ng kaunting irritation. Kapag na-ingest, magkakaroon ng gastro-intestinal discomfort, pagkakasakit ng tiyan at pagtatae…ito iyong mga minor effects,” she added.

clarifies white sand in Manila Bay not a health hazard

But the later clarified that the dolomite used in the white sand project in Manila Bay is 2 to 5 millimeters in size, 100 times bigger than dust.

“Therefore [it] does not get suspended in air. Moreover, occupational health and safety standards for workers, and precautionary measures for the containment of possible dust formation are being implemented,” the department statement said.

“Therefore, in terms of the general safety of the public who will be enjoying the shoreline once permitted, DOH assures that no untoward incidents will occur as a result of this endeavor,” it added.

Meanwhile, the marine conservation group Oceana Philippines launched an online petition against the Manila Bay white sand project spearheaded by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources ().

“We are opposed, and we want this project, a useless expenditure of public money, stopped,” Gloria Ramos, Oceana Philippines vice president, told GMA News.

According to the online petition, the Manila Bay white sand project allegedly violated five laws: Presidential Proclamation 2146, the amended Fisheries Code, the Clean Water Act, the National Cultural Heritage Act, and the Local Government Code.