THE EcoWaste Coalition on Monday asked Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez to follow-through her suggestion to have the fishes at the Laguna Lake tested for toxins like lead and mercury to determine if they are still safe for human consumption.
The coalition, in a statement, said it supports Secretary Lopez’ idea “to look into the potential toxic metal contamination of Laguna Lake fish, which are mainly coming from industrial and domestic pollution sources.”
Aileen Lucero, the coalition’s national coordinator, recalled that Lopez had suggested the testing of fishes, in coordination with other government agencies such as the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the Department of Health, after saying last Wednesday that “Laguna de Bay is over fished and that “fish in (the lake) have been found to be heavy in mercury,”
“In fact, the monitoring of toxic metals and other contaminants in fish in Laguna Lake should be undertaken on a regular basis to assure the public that they are safe to eat, especially by children and pregnant women who are very vulnerable to the harmful effects of exposure to lead, mercury and other toxic metals,” Lucero, quoting Lopez, said.
Lucero further quoted Lopez as saying that “The decline or rise in toxic metal concentrations in Laguna Lake fish, as the sampling data would show, will be a good indicator of the effectiveness of government’s interventions and help the Duterte administration in realizing its vision for the country’s largest freshwater lake.”
The EcoWaste Coalition recalled that fish sampling conducted in 2010-2011 showed that “mudfish from Laguna Lake is not fit for long-term human consumption primarily due to lead and mercury contamination.”
Prof. Victorio B. Molina of the University of the Philippines-Manila, who conducted the study, found out that “long-term human consumption of mudfish from Laguna de Bay is not safe due to elevated levels of mercury and lead that were found to be above the safe non-carcinogenic hazard quotient (NHQ) values.”
While the levels of arsenic, cadmium and chromium do not pose significant non-carcinogenic health effects associated with the consumption of mudfish from Laguna de Bay, the concentrations of mercury and lead showed elevated levels that are likely to cause adverse health effects on the fishes’ long-term consumers, Molina’s report, entitled “Non-Carcinogenic Health Risks of Heavy Metal in Mudfish from Laguna Lake,” Molina’s report said.
Arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury are non-essential metals from the point of view of human health and are known to have the ability to bio-accumulate through the food chain, the report also said.
Furthermore, Molina’s study pointed out that “lead is the most urgent pollutant of concern in terms of adverse health effects from risks associated with mudfish consumption from all sampling locations in the lake.”
Meanwhile, Greenpeace, a member of the EcoWaste Coalition, claims that the “Laguna Lake and its surrounding areas are under immediate threat from household and industrial pollution.”
Greenpeace explains that “household or domestic wastes constitute 77% of the lake’s total pollution load while industry contributes 11%. The agriculture sector contributes another 11% while 1% came from the forests.
It also claims that “solid and liquid wastes enter the lake by way of the 22 major tributaries and the more than 100 minor tributaries, including the periodically back-flowing Pasig River.”