Crushed dolomite used as artificial white sand can cause respiratory issues, warns DOH

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 07 2020 02:28 PM

Workers spread white sand along a portion of the Baywalk in Manila Bay on September 3, 2020 as part of the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program by the DENR. The white sand, which comes from Cebu, will be spread from the banks of the bay near the US Embassy to the Yacht Club. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Crushed dolomite can cause respiratory issues, the Department of Health warned Monday, days after the environment department began dumping artificial white sand nearby Manila Bay.

“Ang dolomite po is a form of a rock na meron pong mga sinasabi sa mga pag-aaral na kapag na-inhale natin ito mga tao, may mga adverse reactions, respiratory mainly,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.

(Dolomite is a form of rock, which according to studies, if a person inhales it, it can have adverse reactions, respiratory mainly.)

Vergeire said medical literature also claimed that dolomite dust can aerosolize and “can cause respiratory issues or effects to a person.”

“Also, pag napunta sa mata, nagkakaroon ng konting irritation (if it gets in your eyes, there can be some irritation) and you would have to wash it off with water,“ she added.

Accidentally ingesting the dust can also cause discomfort in a person’s gastrointestinal system, which can result in an upset stomach and diarrhea. 

“Yun lang ang sinasabi ng mga artikulo. So titignan natin how it’s going to affect (people),” the health official said.

(That’s what the articles say. So we’ll see how this will affect people.)

She said Filipinos are still required to observe minimum health standards such as wearing face masks so this should protect people from respiratory issues.

“So when you go to Manila Bay for you to have your R&R (rest & relaxation) kailangan pa din po gagawin ang minimum health standards (you need to observe minimum health standards),” Vergeire said. “And when you are wearing your mask itong inhalation effects can be prevented also.”

Despite this, the DOH said it trusts that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) made studies on how the dolomite will affect the environment and the people.

“They already had this in their plan even before the pandemic. Siguro sila po ang makakapagsabi kung talagang ito ay naging efficient ba ang government dito pag nakita natin ang epekto ng programang ito (Perhaps they would be in a better position to say if the government was efficient based on the effects of this program),” Vergeire said when asked if the money spend on the project should have instead been directed to COVID-19 response.

Critics of the DENR have earlier said the dumping of dolomite on Manila Bay was unnecessary. 

Environment group Oceana Philippines had said the artificial sand could negatively affect the ecosystem.