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Kalinga waterways monitored for heavy metal traces

TABUK CITY—Environment authorities are looking into suspected contamination of waterways in the province to protect the health of people and the lucrative agriculture sector. Engr. Cortes Dagupen of Environmental Management Bureau under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said water samples have tested positive for lead. “Local governments must now start monitoring the activities of people along the tributaries of the Chico River. Worst, its effects might even spread to the neighboring provinces of Cagayan and Isabela,” he told Manila Standard. Lead is a heavy metal which he said could be deadly at certain exposure levels, and being a neurotoxin it could damage the nervous system resulting in brain damage. Dagupen said quarterly water sampling along the Chico River have shown that lead traces has reached 0.2 microgram per liter which is above the 0.05 microgram per liter threshold for Class B rivers. He said lead from natural sources could rise due to improper waste disposal of pesticides, paints, used batteries, hospital wastes, mine tailings, household wastes and others. “The public should know that the residue of everything thrown as garbage could easily reach the river systems as they are carried by rain water regardless of proximity,” he said. According to Dagupen the warning was not meant to scare people but focus attention on the health hazard to prevent unneccessary deaths. “Being in the forefront, barangay units should include environmental measures to protect their rivers and water systems instead of just giving focus to infrastructure in their proposal and resolutions,” he said.
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