Every time we refer to the world as we know it in 2019 as a “dystopian hellscape”, the news cycle finds a new way to outdo itself. Mylene Cayetano, a leading scientist of the Environmental Pollution Laboratory of the University of the Philippines Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology (UP IESM), reported that heavy metals were found in samples taken from Burgos, Ilocos Norte.
The original research article, published in April 2018, investigated the characteristics of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in Burgos. During the southwest monsoon (Habagat), most of the tiny particles were found to be sea salt blown from the West Philippine Sea. Things are different during the northeast monsoon (Amihan) though, as about a third of the PM2.5 composition was found to be waste from our northeastern neighbors. Upon further inspection, it was found that the particles were a by-product of solid waste burning and industrial emissions in China.
There was an alarming concentration of lead and cadmium found in the samples from Burgos. The two metals are highly toxic, and are known for carcinogenic effects. This poses an unavoidable threat to the inhabitants, because also according to science, everyone breathes.
Think of it this way: a small rural town with little to no industrial activity is directly being affected by pollution from another country. I mean, I’ve had some bad neighbors, but none of them have tried to slowly kill me with air. Considering that Philippine-Chinese relations have been growing more contentious since the Recto Bank Incident, this is no helping factor.