Health News

Thousands of urban poor in the Philippines in danger from cancer causing coal dust

Tondo urban poor kids with coal dusts in their hands ©

THE inhabitants of poor communities around an alleged coal storage facility in Tondo, Manila is in danger of contracting respiratory related cancer due to prolonged exposure from coal dust.

This alarming health condition was discovered by EcoWaste Coalition and other cause oriented groups after they conducted a medical mission this week in communities near the 10 hectare multi-purpose Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc. where stockpiles of coal are reportedly stored.

Local residents of barangay 105 and nearby areas along Radial Road 10, told the members of the medical mission that they have long been complaining against the coal dust from the storage facility that has been blowing over into their homes for years due to health concerns. They claim to have sought help from the Manila City government several times but it has yet to act on their plea. This prompted the members of the medical mission to immediately make a public appeal to the national government to do something about the matter.

Aileen Lucero, EcoWaste Coalition coordinator. noted the “dusts from the tons of stockpiled coal near the residential areas pose real health hazard for the people, especially for the young children and the elderly and the government must act decisively to protect them from such toxic particles and chemicals in coal.”

Dr. Erle Castillo, former President of the Philippine Society of Clinical and Occupational Toxicology, told residents who came to seek medical attention that exposure to airborne coal dusts may cause pneumoconiosis, which is also called “black lung disease” among coal workers.

“When the coal dusts are inhaled, the extremely small particles can deposit in the bronchial tubes or in the air sacs, which are deep in the lungs and inflict serious harm to the respiratory system. Exposure to coal dust, one of the most common causes of pneumoconiosis along with asbestos and silica, may lead to the so-called ‘black lung disease,’ which is not curable at all,” Castillo explained.

Aside from the EcoWaste Coalition, the other participants of the medical mission are the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), the progressive Zone One Tondo Organization (ZOTO), local barangay officials and the office personnel of House Representative Benjamin Asilo.

Nelson Flores, J.D., MSCK
A former reporter of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Manila Standard Today, and a regular columnist of the Metro Manila based daily tabloid newspaper Hataw; Nelson Flores is also the former Senior Associate Editor of the Houston based Fil-Am Press and former anchor of dzXL and dzRJ's weekend talk show Usaping Bayan. Mr. Flores has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Law degrees from the University of Santo Tomas and Adamson University and a holder of a study certificate from the Diocesan House of Studies, Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI). He is a Freemason and member of Reagan Lodge 1037 in Houston Heights under the jurisdiction of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas and a member of the Missionary Society of Christ the King (MSCK).

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