Digging The Sand: Benefits and Side Effects of Crushed Dolomite on Manila Bay

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Amidst the current pandemic the country is going through, another controversy has stolen the spotlight— white sand. At first one might think that this is some sort of a joke but it's not. For the past weeks, Politicians, environmentalists, and even ordinary citizens have shared their fair-share of opinions regarding the 'beautification' project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) which involves putting crushed dolostone in the shores of Manila Bay.

The project received a handful of backlash because apparently, the DENR spent a hefty P350M for the project which according to some experts, the budget could have been enough to provide financial assistance to Covid-struck areas or provide aid to unemployed and poverty-stricken Filipinos. Not only that, according to the Department Of Health (DOH) the material that can cause health issues and bring harm to humans. These claims were denied by the DENR however, the continuous information clash has caused confusion among the public.

To clear everything, we dug deep into the pros and cons of using dolomites.

Used in the Construction Industry

Obviously, we can tell that dolomite has a good reputation in the construction industry because it's already on Manila Bay's shores. The 228-year old sedimentary rock can also be made into bricks, cement, plastics, concrete, and paving materials with the right skill. It's a smart choice that DENR chose this material because of its versatility and affordability.

Livestock Nourishment

Surprisingly, dolostone is a great player in the agriculture sector. Farm animals such as chickens, cows, and sheep consume the high calcium and magnesium content of dolomite through tablets or edible wafers. Both nutrients are essential for the growth and nutrients of domesticated animals. Without it, there would be no hard shells for the eggs, milk production would be low, and sheep would not grow wools properly.

Aesthetically Pleasing View

Clear ocean water, soft white sand, and tropical trees blown by the gentle breeze of Manila Bay promise a superb experience to any locals finding joy during the pandemic. Set aside all the sacrifices and drawbacks this project has and look for its brighter side. The beautiful sunset view from this beach will indeed reduce the stress you're feeling right now. Not to mention the aromatic smell of nature that will excite any nature lover.

Dolomite is a Threat to Human Health

While white sand is an addition for a luxurious Manila Bay, the mixed varying silica levels present pose a threat to human health. According to Lehigh Hanson Inc., a Texas-based distributor and builder company, dolomite's crystalline silica content may result in cancer once inhaled. Prolonged exposure can also cause skin and eye irritation while ingesting it would result in stomach pain and diarrhea.

Disruption to Ecosystem

Manila waters are already besieged by water pollution and resource exploitation. Adding white sand means more problems for our aquatic friends since it will stress them out. If washed away by the ravaging waves, it will mix into the ocean water, making the temperature high and decrease dissolved oxygen levels, which is necessary for marine animals to breathe.

DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporada stated that there'd be no adverse effects since corals and dolomite sand are both made of calcium carbonate. However, Oceana Philippines protested that the sand does not naturally-occur so that it might destroy the coastal ecosystem and the source of sand.

The White Sand Will Be Washed Out

According to a statement by the University of the Philippines Resilience Institute executive director Mahar Lagmay, naturally, sand will always be moved from one place to another. The odds of it being washed away are far from impossible. Replenishing it with another batch of pulverized dolomite rocks would result in spending more public funds, but let's hope the project is worthwhile.

By Jared Ambrocio

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