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DOH clarifies: Dolomite in bulk state not a health hazard

Dolomite, which is being used to beautify the coastline of Manila Bay, is not a health hazard in its bulk state, the Department of Health (DOH) clarified on Wednesday after initially warning against the respiratory risks posed by 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 DOH said in a statement.

On Monday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the inhalation of crushed dolomite may cause respiratory issues

“Ito pong dolomite, base po sa pag-aaral, kapag na-inhale natin ito, may mga adverse reaction [sa] respiratory system, mainly,” Vergeire 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.

But the DOH later clarified that the dolomite material being used for the controversial Manila Bay “white sand” project 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.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources earlier said that the P389-million project will discourage people from littering

Environmentalist and fisherfolk groups slammed the project as an “aesthetic solution” that “does not solve pollution at the source.”  

The progressive Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives, meanwhile, has filed a resolution calling for an investigation into the controversial government program. — RSJ, GMA News