J. Phys. IV France
Volume 107, May 2003
Page(s) 275 - 279

J. Phys. IV France
107 (2003) 275
DOI: 10.1051/jp4:20030295

Health and environmental assessment of the impact of mine tailings spillage in the Philippines

E. Castillo1, N.P. Cortes-Maramba2, J.P. Reyes1, I. Makalinao1, C. Dioquino1, A.T. Francisco-Rivera3 and R. Timbang3

1  National Poison Control and Information Service, UP-Manila, Ward 14-A, Room 100, Philippine General Hospital, Philippines
2  Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, UP-College of Medicine, 547 Pedro Gil St., Manila, Philippines
3  Environmental and Occupational Health Office, National Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Department of Health, San Lazaro Compound, Manila, Philippines

In March, 1997, a municipal health officer in a small island south of Manila requested for the conduct of a health assessment of the community because of the incidence of hematological related illnesses/mortality among residents of along the coastal area of a mining community. 85 deaths were recorded from 1975-1996. Leukemia was diagnosed in 62 (72.94%) patients, 16 (18.82%) were aplastic anemia, 4 (4.71%) were blood dyscrasia and 3 (3.53%) other blood related ailments. Health and environmental assessment activities were conducted by a composite team from the DOH and the UP-National Poisons Control and Information Service Health examinations included a review of systems, complete medical history, physical and neurologic evaluations and biologic examinations. Initial health examination showed 7 schoolchildren out of 108 volunteer subjects from 6 barangays have elevated blood lead levels exceeding the WHO recommended limits of 10 ug/dl. Mean blood lead levels = 15.86 ug/dl (Range: 13-19 ug/dl). Electromyograph and nerve conduction velocity (EMG-NCV) results were compatible with peripheral axonal degeneration in 6 children and beginning damage in 1 child. Detoxification therapy was done for a 19 day course using dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA). In the succeeding health assessment, 59/59 schoolchildren from 3 barangays namely were found to have elevated blood lead levels. Range: 10-18 ug/dl. 43/64 (67.18%) have anemia. Soil samples collected 7 km from the causeway and the causeway itself showed three (3) sites with lead. cadmium, copper and zinc levels were found in all sampling sites. Ambient air monitoring results showed lead values exceeding the recommended US-EPA limits.

© EDP Sciences 2003