Two Toxins

Healthbeat 1997 No. 4.jpgHealthbeat 1997 No. 4.jpg

There were two big issues on red tide menace this year. First was the permanent ban declared by the DOH and Department of Agriculture in January. Next was the issuing of another set of policies for the enforcement and lifting of the red tide ban after a second red tide-causing organism was detected in Manila Bay early this year.

The second week of January saw the two departments declaring a permanent ban on the harvesting, transport, selling, and eating of shellfish meat coming from the Manila Bay after red tide-causing microorganisms were detected in the waters of Cavite.

Health Secretary Carmencita N. Reodica also asked leaders of various churches and local government officials to help enforce the ban. However, Senator Blas Ople said that the declaration was “unfair,” claiming that such action will paralyze the “tahong” (mussels) industry and will leave many people unemployed.

The news on the presence of a second red tide-causing organism in Manila Bay prompted the National Red Tide Task Force, of which the DOH is a member, to issue another set of policies for the enforcement and lifting of the red tide ban.

The new guidelines were needed because the Gymnodinuim Catenatum, an organism that thrives during the cold season at the bay, has different characteristics compared to Pyrodinium Bahamense, the more common red tide organism that multiplies in the bay during the hot, dry season.

The guidelines provided that a ban will be imposed once the level of P. Bahamense organism in the sea water has reached five or more cells per liter. In contrast, only a warning will be issued when an area has five or more cells of G. Catenatum per liter of sea water. Meanwhile, the task force decided that when the two organisms are simultaneously present in the bay, the guidelines for the P. Bahamense will be enforced.