Issue of December 25, 2011

102nd Baguio Day Anniversary Issue
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LGUs pressed to address Chico River’s lead threat
by Gigi Dumallig / PIA

TABUK CITY, Kalinga – An official from the Environment Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources raised concern on the “above threshold lead content” of the Chico River traversing Kalinga and its neighboring provinces.

Engr. Cortes Dagupen of EMB -CAR said that previous sampling of water quality from 20 stations along the river have positive traces of lead manifesting that the poisonous substance is coming from all the other areas considering that almost all upstream tributaries converge at the Chico River.

Lead is a heavy metal which could be poisonous at certain exposure level. Being a neurotoxin, it could damage the nervous system resulting in brain damage, Dagupen said.

The quarterly water sampling along the Chico River, he said, show that lead traces reached 0.2 microgram per liter which is above the 0.05 microgram per  liter threshold for Class B rivers. Chico River is classified as Class B based on DENR standards.

Lead,  he said, could come from natural sources but the amount could rise as a result of improper waste disposal of products with lead contents such as pesticides, paints, used batteries, hospital wastes, mine tailings, and household wastes.

“The public should know that the residue of everything thrown as garbage could easily reach the river systems as they are carried by rain water regardless of proximity,” he said.

He said the release of said information is “not meant to scare the public but instead make them understand to get their support in addressing the problem.”

The public’s role, he said, is vital in eradicating the sources by practicing proper solid waste management and taking precautionary measures in the usage and disposal of commonly used products with significant amounts of lead such as paints, pesticides and household products and even toys.

Being at the forefront, barangay local government units he said should now start planning to mitigate the impending problem by including in their plans environmental measures to protect their rivers and water systems instead of just giving focus to infrastructure projects in their proposal and resolutions.

“Do not wait for the contamination to get out of control before we act especially that heavy metals are hard to detect in human body,” he said, adding that heavy metal poisoning could only be determined by specialists and toxicologists which unfortunately hospitals do not have.

The EMB will be conducting regular sampling to include other tributaries to zero in the main sources of lead for the proper management.

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