Photo by Pia Bonalos/CNN Philippines
Urban poor residents burdened by coal dust pollution in Tondo,
Through a medical mission held today at Barangay 105, the EcoWaste Coalition, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) and the Zone One Tondo Organization (ZOTO) joined the residents in urging the authorities to shut down a polluting coal stockpile facility located within the Harbour Centre Port Terminal, Inc.
Residents from nearby areas have long been complaining against the coal dust from the storage facility that has been blowing over into their homes for years and affecting their health, the groups said.
Dr. Erle Castillo 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.
According to the American Lung Association (ALA), “pneumoconiosis is a general term given to any lung disease caused by dusts that are breathed in and then deposited deep in the lungs causing damage.”
“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,” explained Castillo, who is former President of the Philippine Society of Clinical and Occupational Toxicology.
“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,” he said.
“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,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“As prevention is better than cure, we call upon the authorities to close the source of coal dust pollution at once as demanded by the affected residents. The coal facility is only aggravating the living conditions in the area,” said Orly Gallano, President, ZOTO.
“The degraded air quality in this part of Tondo is one of the most obvious environmental and health impacts of dirty coal. To halt this preventable pollution, the coal storage facility has to go and our country has to stop its dependence on coal and switch to clean renewable energy sources instead,” said Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, Secretary-General of Sanlakas and head of the Energy Working Group of PMCJ.
The said medical mission was co-organized by the EcoWaste Coalition, PMCJ and Zoto in collaboration with the Barangay Council of Barangay 105, Zone 8 in Tondo,
and the Office of Rep. Benjamin “Atong” Asilo.