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Heal Toxics is a member of the International POPs Elimination Network

This website provides resources on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) such as pesticides, dioxins, PCBs, and wastes. Valuable examples of community monitoring of health and environmental impacts of toxic chemicals are also furnished.

Further, there is an entire section devoted to chemical safety in its proper socio-political context or in relation to issues such as globalization and people's empowerment.

 

School inside a banana plantation: Filipino students endangered

by Ananeza Aban, Pinoy Weekly

The lives of a hundred and forty-four students of Emelio Araneta Sr. Primary School inside the Brgy. Daliaon Plantation, Toril in Davao City are put at risk because of constant exposure to pesticides used by the banana plantation.

In an ocular survey held recently by a Multi-Sectoral Investigating Team (MSIT) led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, it was found out that the Emelio Araneta Sr. Primary School stood in the middle of the plantation.

“There is no buffer zone from the school to the pesticide-laced bananas which could filter any possible pollution from the plantation. This puts the health of the children in danger,” the MSIT reports.

The MSIT is composed of representatives of different government agencies, non-government organizations, local government and the academe. It was formed to respond to the complaints received by the Watershed Management Coordinating Council (WMCC) about the alleged chemical poisoning of the various watersheds in Davao City.

There are 144 students enrolled in Emelio Araneta Sr. Primary School, according to the Daliaon Barangay Council. There are 29 incoming Grade 1 students; 30 Grade 2 students; 22 Grade 3 students; 26 Grade 4 students; 24 Grade 5 students; and 13 Grade 6 students.

“The Department of Education (DepEd) and other concerned government agencies must immediately respond to the situation of these children,” said Victor Cañizares, WMCC president.

In time with the opening of classes this June, Davao City Councilor Angela Librado filed a resolution calling for the City Environment and Natural Resources Office, DepEd, City Health Office, and Department of Health to investigate the problem.

Emilio Araneta, one of the owners of the plantation, admitted that they use the pesticides Vondozeb (Mancozeb), Tilt (Propicanazole), Bankit, Lorsban (Chlorpyrifos) and Confidor (Imidacloprid). The spraying of these agrochemicals occurs every 8 to 10 days. The minimum interval between the last spraying and harvesting is 5 days.

According to Dr. Romeo Quijano of the University of the Philippines Pharmacology and Toxicology Department and president of Pesticide Action Network Philippines, the Mancozeb fungicide is part of the pesticide group ethylene bis-thiocarbamate (EBDC) that converts into ethylene thiourea (ETU), a cancer-causing chemical.

ETU is also on the list of cancer-causing chemicals of the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and the California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. Because of the presence of ETU, Mancozeb is dangerous to the thyroid of people exposed to it.

Quijano added that Mancozeb is an endocrine disruptor based on chronic toxicity studies that demonstrated thyroid abnormalities and altered levels of thyroid hormones. Studies claim that, “Experimental evidence suggests that this pesticide may cause mutations in chromosomes. In a reproductive toxicity test, pituitary abnormalities and thyroid and kidney problems were observed.”

Meanwhile, the chemical Imidacloprid possibly affects the water used by households in the barangay because it allegedly seeps into the soil and into the water system.

The Brgy. Daliaon Plantation is located inside the Talomo-Lipadas Watershed that is only waiting to be proclaimed as an environmentally-critical area.

Cañizares added that Brgy. Daliaon is controversial because it was acquired privately by a plantation, even though it was classified as timberland and thus, a public land. The barangay is classified as timberland based on the 1925 Land Classification Map of the Bureau of Forestry.


 

©heal toxics, 2003
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