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. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  2. Chinese lawyers say they were tortured by police
  3. Hair salon’s Kim Jong Un poster riles embassy
  4. Siquijor ‘healer’: For every cure, there’s a plant
  5. Why college grads end up in the PNP
  6. Miraculous image makes Gapan City top site for pilgrimage in Central Luzon
  7. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  8. Five men from Cavite found dead in jeep in Batangas
  9. Town, DENR play tug-of-war over crocodile
  10. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  1. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  2. Massage attendant arrested on rape complaint filed by Japanese tourist
  3. ‘Tell no one’ Makati bettor won P250M lotto
  4. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  5. Netizens cry: 6/55 Lotto was rigged
  6. ‘Wife of Jesus’ theory papyrus not fake – Harvard study
  7. North Korea uses flamethrower to execute official
  8. ‘King’ Yabut and I: Driver bares Makati dad ‘abuses’
  9. Gay college instructor arrested for oral sex with student
  10. It was difficult having Japanese blood
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Pork payoffs to newscasters Erwin Tulfo, Del Prado, others bared
  4. UP back on top as ‘average’ student aces bar
  5. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  6. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  7. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  8. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  9. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  10. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’


  • Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  • AFP denies hand in disappearance of Tiamzon’s gardener
  • PH gov’t to verify MILF presence in Basilan clash
  • Padaca ‘eager’ to air side on trial over graft, malversation raps
  • DPWH to favor road rehab over preventive maintenance in next 2 years
  • Sports

  • Power Pinoys salvage 7th place in Asian men’s volley club championship
  • Knicks prevent Nets from clinching fifth seed
  • Arsenal beats West Ham 3-1 in Premier League
  • Memorial service marks Hillsborough anniversary
  • My ideal weight is 140, declares Pacquiao
  • Lifestyle

  • Celebrate Easter Sunday at Buddha-Bar Manila
  • Moriones feast: A slow, steady transformation
  • Weaving ‘palaspas’ a tradition kept alive in Tayabas City
  • Finalists announced for best translated books
  • Summer treat for your aspiring astronomers
  • Entertainment

  • Deniece Cornejo posts bail—report
  • Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels US concert
  • Otaku Summer Jam 2014: Summer’s hottest J-rock/Cosplay event
  • 2NE1 returns to Manila with “All Or Nothing” Tour
  • Gary Valenciano just keeps moving
  • Business

  • I-Remit teams up with Lakhoo for remittances from Oman
  • Megawide nets P1.4 B in 2013
  • Longer TRO sought on rate hike
  • Make a stylish statement with the all-new Yaris
  • Hearing set in Olarte case
  • Technology

  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Tech company: Change passwords or suffer ‘Heartbleed’
  • Filling the digital talent gap
  • SSS to shut down website for Holy Week
  • Another reason to quit social media this Holy Week: your safety
  • Opinion

  • We may never know
  • Couple of things
  • Mommy D’s magic
  • Stop bizarre and bloody Good Friday rituals
  • Holy Week taboos
  • Global Nation

  • 2 PCG men ordered arrested over Balintang Channel shooting
  • US Embassy closed on Holy Thursday, Good Friday
  • Relief worker draws inspiration from helping Yolanda victims
  • Philippines says peace pact should hold despite clashes
  • No travel restrictions to Middle East amid MERS-CoV scare
  • Marketplace