Health, environmental advocates urge not to burn trash in cemeteries

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 28, 2019   •   366

Health and environmental advocates urge the public not to burn trash especially in cemeteries during the observance of Undas.

In a joint statement, public health expert Dr. Maricar Limpin and zero waste campaigner Jove Mendoza said there are health and environmental dangers in burning trash.

Exposure to these pollutants can cause breathing difficulties and trigger asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses, especially among children, the elderly and those already suffering from weakened immune systems,” Limpin said.

Meanwhile, Benosa reiterated that burning trash in public is prohibited. He said among the laws banning and penalizing open burning are Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, and Republic Act 8749, or the Clean Air Act.

“Instead of burning discards, we appeal to cemetery administrators and visitors to follow the provisions of RA 9003, which requires the segregation of discards at source and their ecological management such as by composting the biodegradables and recycling the recyclables,” said Benosa.—AAC

PH returns third batch of waste from South Korea

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 17, 2020

The Philippines is set to return 50 containers of trash from the Mindanao International Container Terminal (MICT) back to South Korea within the month.

According to the Bureau of Customs (BOC), over 6,000 tons of waste from South Korea were shipped into the Philippines in 2018. They were declared plastic waste but was reported to contain mixed non-biodegradable waste.

The first shipment of re-exportation was successfully done in January 13, 2019 which included 51 containers.

“Additional batches shall be re-exported on February 16 and February 23 which shall bring the total re-exported wastes to 201 containers and shall finally rid the country of the illegally imported wastes,” MICT Port Collector John Simon said in a statement.

Simon said that once the total of 6,500 tons of trash is returned, the Philippines will still ask South Korea to pay for damages after violating the Basel Convention.

Simon also stressed that the Bureau shall remain firm in its commitment of protecting the country’s borders from the entry of any illegal shipments including wastes that are harmful to the environment.—AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Scientist sees coconut oil as potential nCoV treatment

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 7, 2020

A scientist is looking into coconut oil as a potential treatment for the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Ateneo de Manila University chemistry professor Dr. Fabian Dayrit said coconut oil has antiviral agents which can help in the treatment of nCoV.

Lauric acid is a fatty acid found in coconut oil while monolaurin is a compound that is produced naturally when one consumes virgin coconut oil (VCO). It is also commercially available through chemical synthesis.

Dr. Dayrit said there had been several clinical studies proving the potential of coconut oil against various diseases including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Junin virus which is similar to nCoV.

“As far as the available literature is concerned, it is very promising. Kasi it had been shown to work in other viruses. So, wala namang risk. So, why not try it,” he said.

“It’s not a proof, but there is enough evidence that it might work,” he added.

Dr. Dayrit said that based on research, the said antiviral agents can potentially destroy the cell membrane of a virus and stop its maturity.

“It has been shown that lauric acid and monolaurin can inhibit the replication,” he said.

The Philippines is also abundant in coconut which can produce cheaper coconut oil.

According to the Philippine Coconut Authority, the Philippines is the number one exporter of virgin coconut oil in the world. Coconut oil is also safe for animals which is also used as food supplements for farm animals and pets.

Dr. Dayrit explained that for a proper clinical study you would need a few hundred subjects depending on study design.

“We don’t have that many coronavirus patients. So, I think we have to design it to test it out just to show that it can actually work and we can move on from there,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) is open to conduct clinical tests for the potential of coconut oil.

DOH USec. Eric Domingo said a lot of evidence is needed when it comes to treatment and management. He also calls on researchers to come up ways to look into potential treatments for nCoV.

“We are requesting iyong ating researchers dito kung pwedeng tingnan, (our researchers if they can look into it),” he said.—AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

RITM: ‘Reserve’ face masks to those who really need it

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 4, 2020

The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) is not recommending the general public to wear face masks, saying it should be “reserved for those who really need it”.

In a press conference in Malacañang on Monday (February 3), RITM Director Celia Carlos said the wearing of face masks is recommended for health workers and people with respiratory illness.

“There is now a current shortage of this valuable commodity and let us give them to those who need them most, especially the health workers,” she said.

“Currently, since there is no community transmission of the novel coronavirus in the Philippines, we are not recommending its use for the general public who do not have respiratory symptoms,” she added.

Instead, the health official advised the public to practice proper hygiene by regularly washing their hands. She also advised people to avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth with unclean hands or unwashed hands.

“We need to observe good hand hygiene and we need to eat and drink from safe, clean and reliable sources,” she said.—AAC

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