A Detailed Site Assessment was completed at a former informal ULAB (used lead-acid battery) recycling site in Sitio Tinga-an, San Nicolas Proper Barangay, Cebu City.
The name Sitio Tinga-an translates as “lead smelting village.” Recycling operations was halted at the site a few years ago, and the area is now covered by soil from off-site by the new owners.
Investigation and XRF sampling found contamination in the adjacent informal settlement, the “shanty area” adjacent to the former ULAB recycling operation with hundreds of residents. To a lesser extent, lead contamination was found in the front yard of the large high school across the street from the operation and along streets in the area.
Barangay San Nicolas hosted 5,407 people based on 2007 Philippine Population Census, and of this, around 2000 people are possibly affected by lead and other heavy metals.
The major pathways of lead contamination to people are through ingestion of contaminated soil and dust, particularly in the shanty area. The risk is present but less in the other areas. Most of the exposure and contamination migration risk has been reduced because the are is covered with off-site soil. The high school leadership agreed to pave the front yard of the high school to reduce risks there.
Recommendations from the Pure Earth investigation are as follows: 1) cover limited areas in the shanty area (which is mostly roofed or paved); 2) address any remaining lead exposure risks inside homes there through inspection and as needed washing and mattress replacement; and 3) follow up on the paving of the property and school area to assure that it is done well. An education program about the hazards of lead is also recommended.
On January 18, 2019, the results of the Detailed Site Assessment were presented to City and Barangay representatives as well as the principal of Don Carlos A. Gothong High School.