Is dolomite dangerous to humans?

Published September 5, 2020, 6:36 PM

by Ben Rosario

Instead of fresh sea air, promenaders will get a whiff of toxic dust from dolomite sand when the P389-million Manila Bay rehabilitation project is completed, environmentalists claimed.

This new argument against the proposed sand treatment of a 500-meter stretch of the bay was raised by environmental advocates opposed to the project.

But is crushed dolomite substance really dangerous to human health?

Dolomite material will take the role of white sand which will be used to top coat the beach surface to complement Manila Bay’s picturesque sunset.

Former Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon, convenor of the Infrastructure Watch, claimed there are a number of scientific and medical studies linking dolomite to various respiratory diseases, including cancer.

However, Undersecretary Benny Antiporda of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources decried the claim as “rubbish.”

Antiporda is the spokesman of the inter-agency Manila Bay Rehabilitation Project which has been tasked to clean up and beautify a portion of the bay front.

“They have to show us proof not just claims that remain unsupported by scientific or medical studies. Dolomite and coral reefs are made of the same material which is calcium carbonate – which is not foreign to our coastal system,” he explained.

He dared critics to cite specific cases of people getting sick as a result of ingestion or prolong exposure to dolomite material.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information which is a division of the US National Institute of Health said there is “little information” of dolomite’s potential to trigger respiratory disorders through occupational exposure.

However, in its study of the substance, the NCBI concluded that while its data “cast doubt on the notion that dolomite is a harmless chemical, they provide evidence in favor of the proposition that exposure to high atmospheric concentrations of these compound is likely to be associated with respiratory symptoms.”

In its website, Lhoist North America disclosed that dolomite contact “can cause irritation to eyes, skin, respiratory system, and gastrointentestinal tract,”
adding that “long-term exposure may cause permanent damage.”

“However, this product may contain trace amounts of crystalline silica in the form of quartz or crysbobalite, which has been classified by IARC as a Group I carcinogent to humans when inhaled,” reported the firm, a subsidiary of Belgium-based Lhoist Group the which is the global distributor of lime, dolime, and other minerals.

Meanwhile, the Lehigh Hanson Inc. released a safety data sheet for dolomite, classifying the material used for manufacture of brick, cement, and other construction materials, to Category 1A in terms of carcinogenicity.

“Respirable crystalline silica (RCS) may cause cancer. Dolomite is a naturally occuring mineral complex that contains varying quantities of quartz (crystalline silica),” the firm added.

Lehigh Hanson is a distributor of various construction materials, concrete products, and other industrial products.