Lead, a heavy metal believed to be a health hazard, is found in Baguio drivers’ blood samples, a study presented at an academic forum at the University of the Philippines (UP) in this city shows. The study, “Incidence of Lead in the Blood of Jeepney Drivers in Baguio City” by Dr. Benilda Narcelles of the University of Baguio (UB), elicited concern from forum participants who tackled issues surrounding the proposal for the pedestrianization of Session Road, the city’s main business street, as the focus of discussions.
BY LYN V. RAMO
Posted by Bulatlat.com
BAGUIO CITY (246 kms. north of Manila) – Lead, a heavy metal believed to be a health hazard, is found in Baguio drivers’ blood samples, a study presented at an academic forum at the University of the Philippines (UP) here shows.
The study, “Incidence of Lead in the Blood of Jeepney Drivers in Baguio City” by Dr. Benilda Narcelles of the University of Baguio (UB), elicited concern from forum participants who tackled issues surrounding the proposal for the pedestrianization of Session Road, the city’s main business street, as the focus of discussions.
Narcelles noted lead in blood samples taken from all 43 volunteer drivers plying the Aurora Hill-Plaza route. Three of the drivers subjected to the study showed varying toxicity in their blood samples. Certain ailments associated with lead contamination were also noted by Narcelles in her paper.
Narcelles said drivers with the greatest lead content in their blood samples tend to suffer from kidney diseases, rheumatism, back pain and dizziness. Those with moderate lead contamination had respiratory ailments while those with cardio-vascular disease had the least. Narcelles noted that those with cardio-vascular ailments are more likely to have ceased driving; thus, they are the least exposed to pollution.
What worries Narcelles is her discovery that even unleaded gasoline contains some 0.003 to 0.006 percent of lead.
In a separate interview with Perfecto Itliong, president of the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers of Baguio and La Union, he revealed that drivers usually sip gasoline from the tank to siphon the remaining fluid for washing their tools or hands. He said he wanted all drivers tested for lead to determine the extent of their exposure.
Narcelles, said, she is willing to undertake the study if the drivers’ federation would finance her study, which she said would cost a fortune. The test for the 43 drivers was done through an academic grant she accessed for the paper.
Corroborating Narcelles’ findings, Dr. Ofelia dela Cruz of the UP Baguio Natural Science Department, said that lead poses danger not only to Baguio drivers but also to the country’s populace because of dirty fuel used by most vehicles on the streets.
Dela Cruz expressed concern over a study involving hazards to children. According to Narcelles, lead affects the child’s nervous system causing learning disabilities, speech, language and behavioral problems, poor muscle coordination, and worst, brain damage.
In adults, nerves, memory and concentration problems occur due to lead contamination. High blood pressure, digestive disturbances, muscle and joint pains, decrease in sperm production, and cataract also emerge due to lead in the human system, according to the study.
“Lead in the blood indicates danger,” Narcelles quoted a medical professional as saying. She blames the poor quality of fuel for the presence of lead but she did not discount the possibility that another source of contamination is the plumbing system of the city.
Dr. Florence Reyes of the Department of Health (DoH) said the results of the tests may be tolerable but should not be a reason for complacency. She disclosed the need for vigilance in DoH inspection and monitoring of the city’s water supply because of antiquated metal pipelines.
Presenters during the forum tackled issues such as air pollution, the proliferation of street vendors, lower revenues for business enterprises, and the emergence of criminality, on one hand; and the sense of history and of place and of belonging, the accessibility of streets to the public, traffic situation, parking spaces and security on the other.
One paper, “To Walk or not to Walk,” presented by UP Baguio’s Katti Sta. Ana, cited an earlier study by Maryann Alabanza showing a high level of pollution in Session Road. Sta. Ana is with the School of Urban and Regional Planning in UP Diliman. She advocated walking due to spatial requirements and pollution issues associated with motorized vehicles.
The forum was sponsored by the Energy and Clean Air Network of the Academe (Ecademe), a group of academic institutions in Baguio and Benguet. Northern Dispatch / Posted by (Bulatlat.com)