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DOH eyeing relocation of kids, elderly in Guimaras

August 29, 2006

CHILDREN, elderly folk and pregnant women from the central Philippine island-province of Guimaras are due for relocation as health officials reported that toxic fumes at oil-smeared beaches have risen to alarming levels.

Initial ambient monitoring by the Department of Health (DOH) showed that potentially toxic organic components from two study areas in Guimaras were beyond the minimum risk levels for humans.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the DOH “shall be recommending the relocation of children, elderly, and pregnant women from the oil spill-contaminated area if repeated ambient air monitoring continues to be poor, which may significantly affect their health condition.”

“Those with preexisting conditions such as respiratory, cardiac, kidney or neurological disorders, among others are also at risk,” he added.

Health officials also found that 29 residents in Tando and La Paz villages in severely hit Nueva Valencia town have experienced dizziness, headaches, coughs, shortness of breath and chest pains.

Some villagers were also found to suffer from redness, rashes and other skin problems.

Almost all of the residents in the study were taken from Tando village. They were aged two to 75 years old, with four children and 25 adults.

“Many chemicals in bunker oil are potentially toxic and therefore we must constantly monitor the affected communities. Health effects are also wide and can be acute and mild as skin irritation to something chronic and severe like cancers and leukemia,” Duque said.

The DOH recently downplayed reports that a Guimaras resident suffered heart attack after having difficulty breathing due to toxic fumes.

It said the fatality Remelio Dalida, 26, was drinking the night before he died and had a history of hypertension.

(For the full story, click GMANews.TV. Story published Aug. 29, 2006.)

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