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Banned chemicals found in Mindanao rivers

Environmental disaster looms, say activists

Banned chemicals found in Mindanao rivers
Members of anti-aerial spraying groups rally reporter, Davao City

May 3, 2013

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At least eight kinds of pesticides, seven of which are banned internationally, have been found in air and water samples obtained from several rivers and communities in the southern city of Davao, prompting activists to warn of an impending environmental disaster.

The pesticides were found byInterface Development Interventions, Inc, a Davao-based environmental organization and member of the National Task Force Against Aerial Spraying, which released the results of a study conducted near banana plantations yesterday.

The study was carried out between November 2011 and November last year.

The banned pesticides included aldrin, dieldrin, chlordane, heptachlor, lindane, endrin and DDT. A restricted chemical, endolsulfan, as well as chlorothalonil, which is commonly used for aerial spraying on banana plantations, were also found.

“Out of 63 samples, 39 of them or 62 percent contained chlorothalonil, which many studies have shown to cause dermatitis, and in very high doses, loss of muscle coordination, vomiting, nose bleeding and hyperactivity,” the report said.

Dagohoy Magaway, president of the group Citizens Against Aerial Spraying, said the findings show that "an environmental disaster is waiting to happen" in the area.

"The lives of our families and children are at risk," Magaway added.

Aerial spraying has been banned by Davao authorities but the Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association said the ban is unconstitutional and is challenging it in court.

The Supreme Court is yet to decide on the issue.

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