health effects of Lepanto's mining highlighted in DOH national forum
A research entitled “Health Profile
of Communities Living Near Corporate Gold Mining Operations in Mankayan,
Benguet Province (Preliminary Findings of an Environmental and Occupational
Hazard Assessment)” was awarded first prize in the Department
of Health’s Poster Exhibit Contest. The activity was part of the
5th Health Research for Action Nation Forum held last
June 3-4 at the Centennial Hall of the Manila Hotel. Co-sponsors
of the event were the Department of Health’s Health Policy Development
and Planning Bureau and the Department of Science and Technology’s
Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD).
The research was authored by Dr. Ana Marie R. Leung, Chairperson
of the Department of Preventive and Community Medicine of Saint
Louis University and concurrent spokesperson of the Save the Abra
River Movement (STARM). Dr. Teresita Bonoan, Regional Director of
DOH-CAR was on hand to receive the award with her.
This study aims to describe the health profile of communities living
near corporate gold mining and of company-employed mineworkers.
It aims to determine the prevalence of symptoms attributable to
acid mine drainage among the community residents as well as the
prevalence of work-associated symptoms among the mineworkers.
Questionnaire-guided interviews were conducted among 788 residents
living in 3 communities (sitios) lying downstream from the
operations of Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation in Mankayan,
Benguet. Questionnaire-guided interviews and physical examination
of 88 Lepanto mineworkers were also conducted.
Most significant were the findings for Sitio Paalaban, Barangay
Paco. The residents living nearer the mine drainage (Lower Paalaban)
were found to report significantly more skin, eye, nasal and gastrointestinal
(particularly vomiting) symptoms than those living farther away
from the mine drainage (Upper Paalaban). Also alarming are the results
of 2-day serial and spot water sampling at the company mill outlet
and mine tailings dam 5A which yielded lead, mercury and cyanide
levels above the maximum safety level set by the Department of Environment
and Natural Resources and/or the United States Environmental Protection
Among the mineworkers hired by Lepanto, the most prevalent
injuries were lacerations (43.18%), crushing injuries (17.05%),
bruises (1477%) and fractures (13.64%) usually involving rock or
timber fall. Twenty percent (20%) of these cases required hospitalization.
Most prevalent among the work-associated symptoms reported by the
mineworkers were: phlegm production (79.55%), joint pain (78.41%),
eye irritation (67.05%), headache (55.68%), dyspnea (48.86%) and
dizziness (36.36%). Most prevalent abnormal physical findings were
hypertension (28.41%) and perforated eardrum (19.32%). The supply
and use of personal protective equipment was also identified as
an area that Lepanto needs to improve on significantly. #
Save the Abra River Movement
No. 362 Magsaysay Ave.,
2600, Baguio City, Philippines