MANILA, Philippines—Even as it lauded the government ban on lead in various consumer products, the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) on Saturday urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to look into the health impact of manganese which is used as an additive in gasoline sold locally.
“Manganese is being used in gasoline as a lead substitute because of its anti-knocking effect on gasoline engines. However, it also poses various health hazards that can cause diseases,” said PMA president Dr. Leo Olarte in a statement.
The University of Maryland Medical Center website describes manganese as a trace mineral present in tiny amounts in the body that helps form connective tissue, bones, blood clotting factors and sex hormones. It also plays a role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism, calcium absorption and blood sugar regulation. It is also necessary for normal brain and nerve function.
However, too much manganese in body tissues and the brain is associated with neurological disorders similar to Parkinson’s disease. Early life manganese exposure may impact neurodevelopment while elevated manganese is associated with poor cognitive performance in school children, the website said.
On Thursday, the DENR announced that under its Administrative Order 2013-24, lead and lead compounds are now strictly prohibited in the local manufacture of packaging for food and drinks, school supplies, toys, cosmetics, plumbing pipes and various consumer products as well as in fuel additives for motor vehicles. It also limits the lead content in household and industrial paint.
The DENR said the order will strengthen government control not only over the use of lead and its compounds but also over its importation, distribution, sale and disposal.
Olarte said the PMA supported the DENR’s chemical control order on the use of lead and lead compounds in products commonly used by the public.
“We are ready to seriously partner with the DENR in this advocacy,” he said, stressing that lead is toxic to humans as it can damage the nervous system and other organs resulting in various diseases that inflict pain, suffering and even death.
“Our children are the most vulnerable because lead can be present in toys and other innocent-looking products they usually come in contact with. Worst of all, most Filipino parents are not even aware of these health threats that their young ones are being exposed to,” he added. Tina G. Santos