Latest Stories

Mercury spill at Manila’s Fabella hospital



MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Health on Saturday ordered a clean-up of a “chemical spill” at a government-run maternity hospital known as a “baby factory” due to the immensely large number of women from the lower income brackets who go there to give birth.

Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag said a clean-up was under way at the Fabella Memorial Hospital in Sta. Cruz, Manila after an initial assessment showed unacceptable mercury levels in several areas “in and around the storage room.”

He said Health Secretary Enrique Ona had directed the Fabella hospital officials and staff to prioritize patient safety after mercury reportedly spilled from a broken container in the storage room on August 8.

It was not clear why a maternity hospital,  known as a baby factory for having the biggest number of births in any Philippine hospital every year, would have in storage a large amount of mercury dental amalgam whose use for dental filling has been largely discontinued.

“Forty patients from the Pediatric ward adjacent to the area of spill  were already transferred to another ward in the hospital as a precautionary measure,” Tayag said in a statement.

“Fabella will continue to accept and care for patients as current assessment do not require any evacuation,” he added.

Tayag said a DOH response team was working with the Hazardous Material Unit of the Bureau of Fire Protection to determine the extent of the chemical spill and to initiate remediation procedures.

“Secretary Ona laments that this incident happened and ordered a review of proper and safe storage and disposal of harmful chemicals, particularly mercury, in all hospitals to prevent a similar incident from happening again,” Tayag said.

He said Fabella was one of health facilities that had discontinued the use of mercury-containing medical devices after the DOH ordered their phase-out in 2008.

“All health facilities were ordered to comply with the mercury ban by 2010,” Tayag said.

He added that the DOH was examining possibly exposed individuals following the mercury spill and will monitor them for possible health effects.

Tayag said the DOH was still trying to determine how the spill happened. He said the mercury was still in the storage room because its disposal needed the supervision of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

“The final disposal of mercury needs to be supervised by the DENR. We are still looking for answers,” Tayag said. It was not clear why, if it had already been notified, the DENR has so far not done anything about its disposal.

Tayag said the mercury apparently evaporated after it spilled from its containers in the storeroom.

“What we know was that the amalgam spill was discovered where it was temporarily stored in a separate building away from patient areas after the DOH-issued mercury ban in 2008,” he added.

Tayag said the DOH was also trying to find out if other areas around the storeroom were also contaminated “to make sure no one gets exposed.”

“When mercury vapor is inhaled, it goes to the brain and affects the central nervous system. High exposures can cause respiratory difficulty and even death,” he said.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Fabella Memorial Hospital , hazard , mercury

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Senator’s kickback from pork bigger than those of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – Lacson
  2. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  3. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  4. Sandigan junks Marcos family claim to Paoay property
  5. Delfin Lee: Blame Pag-Ibig, not me
  6. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  7. San Juan cops fail to arrest Cedric Lee
  8. Maid confesses in killing of 2 and stabbing of employer in Laguna
  9. More ‘Yolanda’ bodies found
  10. Vitangcol to sue Czech envoy
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  3. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  4. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  8. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  9. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima


  • Magnitude 6.7 quake off British Columbia coast
  • Blue ribbon committee not yet recalling Napoles
  • Ex-church leader nabbed for selling drugs
  • Camilla’s brother dies in US after head injury
  • Luisita farmers storm DAR compound
  • Sports

  • Heat go up 2-0, hold off Bobcats 101-97
  • Ronaldo shakes off injury fears to play Bayern
  • Mavs roll past Spurs 113-92, even series at 1-1
  • Phelps having fun in his return to swimming
  • Murray breaks down in tears at Scottish ceremony
  • Lifestyle

  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  • Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  • Entertainment

  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Return of ‘Ibong Adarna’
  • Practical Phytos plans his future
  • Business

  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Cost-recovery provisions for affected gencos urged
  • This time, BIR goes after florists
  • Technology

  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Filipinos in Middle East urged to get clearance before returning
  • PH seeks ‘clearer assurance’ from US
  • China and rivals sign naval pact to ease maritime tensions
  • What Went Before: Manila bus hostage crisis
  • Obama arrives in Tokyo, first stop of 4-nation tour
  • Marketplace