The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is appealing to Metro Manila residents to properly discard used face masks and gloves as these pose a high risk of disease contamination among those retrieving these hazardous waste materials from rivers and coasts.
"Doing cleanup and maintenance activities really has become a challenge with the pandemic but we have to strive now more than ever in doing cleanups as disease-causing germs and viruses thrive in a dirty environment," DENR-National Capital Region (NCR) Regional Executive Director Jacqueline Caancan said in a social media post.
She pointed out that improperly disposed face masks and gloves used to protect against the coronavirus pose a risk to the health of workers cleaning Metro Manila's waterways.
The risk from cleaning up the esteros is "high enough already when they go down our rivers and coasts to retrieve improperly disposed waste," she said adding "surgical masks and gloves that end up in our waterways only adds to these risks."
Caancan advised Metro Manila residents to practice separating and labeling household medical wastes "to avoid cross-contamination."
"Not only do we have to segregate biodegradable from recyclables and residuals, but special and hazardous wastes too," she added.
Last August 27, Caancan along with DENR-NCR Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services Ignacio Almira Jr., Conservation and Development Chief Aida Esguerra, and South Field Office Deputy Chief Environment Officer Bobby Tagapan, inspected the water outfalls of Manila Bay in Pasay City and Parañaque City to assess and strategize how to safely conduct cleanup activities with its partner-organizations.
Caancan and the team first inspected the entire stretch of Libertad Channel and its connecting waterway in Pasay City and then moved on to the shorelines of Manila Bay in Barangay Dongalo, Paranaque City. Their last stop was the Las Pinas-Paranaque Wetland Park.
DENR is leading efforts to clean, rehabilitate, and make the waters of Manila Bay safe and compliant to "Class SB" water quality standards that is suitable for swimming, skin diving and other recreational activities.