DOH clarifies: Crushed dolomite in Manila Bay project 'not known health hazard'

The Department of Health (DOH) clarified on Wednesday, September 9, that the crushed dolomite used for the Manila Bay "white sand" project is not a health hazard.

The DOH stood by its earlier statement that dolomite dust can cause health problems, but added that the crushed dolomite used for the Manila Bay project was not the same, as explained by environment officials. (READ: Cimatu counters DOH: Dolomite in Manila Bay not harmful to health)

"Therefore, in terms of the general safety of the public who will be enjoying the shoreline once permitted, DOH assures that no untoward incidents will occur as a result of this endeavor," the DOH said.

The DOH cited the assurance of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that the dolomite material used for the Manila Bay project is "100 times bigger than dust, therefore does not get suspended in the air."

"Dolomite, in its bulk state, is not a known health hazard. Dolomite in dust form, like any other dust particle, can lead to symptoms such as chest discomfort, shortness of breath, and coughing for this is our body's normal reaction to irritants," the DOH said.

During the House deliberations on the DENR budget on Tuesday, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu defended the agency's decision to create an artificial beach amid the pandemic, and refuted health concerns over the use of dolomite material for the project.

On Monday, the DOH said that dolomite dust may harm one's health when inhaled and ingested, and may cause eye irritation. (READ: Health or aesthetics? DOH says dolomite dust can cause respiratory problems)

Aside from health concerns, environmental groups and advocates are opposed to the P389-million project, as it could lead to the degradation of adjoining marine conservation areas. Others questioned government priorities, spending hundreds of millions for a beautification project, when the funds could be put to better use during the pandemic. (READ: Is this necessary? Netizens raise concerns over white sand on Manila Bay)

Environmentalists, fisherfolk, and church groups have launched a petition to stop the project. –

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.