Microplastics contaminating air, scientists warn

Robie de Guzman   •   August 16, 2019   •   552

German and Swiss scientists have published a study suggesting that microplastic is being blown vast distances through the air and dumped when it snows, underscoring the threat the growing form of pollution poses to marine life in even the remotest waters on the planet.

The team, from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), analyzed snow samples in Germany, the Swiss Alps and on the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard to confirm that the snow in all places contained high concentrations of plastic fragments, known as microplastic.

“It’s readily apparent that the majority of the microplastic in the snow comes from the air,” lead researcher Melanie Bergmann said in a press release.

The highest concentration in samples was collected in a rural area in Germany’s southern province of Bavaria, totaling to 154,000 particles per liter. The snow in the Arctic contained up to 14,400 particles per liter in comparison.

Researchers found particles of nitrile rubber, acrylates and paints containing plastics in their snow samples.

The study, published on Wednesday (August 14), is reinforced by research conducted by a U.S.-led team of scientists in the Northwest Passage. The team found the material trapped in ice taken from Lancaster Sound, an isolated stretch of water in the Canadian Arctic, which they had assumed might be relatively sheltered from drifting plastic pollution.

Eighteen ice cores of up to 2 meters (6.5 feet) long were drawn from four locations, containing visible plastic beads and filaments of various shapes and sizes.

The plastic fragments serve to highlight how the waste problem has reached epidemic proportions.

The United Nations estimates that 100 million tonnes of plastic have been dumped in the oceans to date. (REUTERS)

(Production: Barbara Woolsey)

Filipinos in Singapore cope with work adjustments amid coronavirus crisis

Marje Pelayo   •   February 20, 2020

SINGAPORE – Employers in the city-state are making arrangements with their workers to reduce the risk of community transmission of the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Filipino domestic helper Analyn Baculinao said her employer has asked her to just stay at home even on her rest day so as not to contract the disease.

Household workers in Singapore are known for rest-day gatherings especially during Sundays.

Umpisa po noong naglabas ng advisory ang Ministry of Manpower tungkol sa domestic helper naging aware din po ang amo ko, kinausap niya ako na kung pwede huwag muna akong lumabas (Since the Ministry of Manpower issued an advisory regarding domestic helpers, my employer became aware of the situation and asked me if I could just stay at home),” Analyn told UNTV News.

“Huwag muna ako mag take ng day off kasi daw pag nag day off ako mag te-take ako ng bus, mag-e-mrt. Kaya super aware ang amo ko kaya sabi niya hanggang hindi okay hindi ka muna lalabas (She appealed that I should not take a day off for now because if I do, I would ride a bus, the MRT. My employer is aware (of the risk) that’s why she has asked me to stay indoors while the situation is not okay),” she added.

Jorge Araza, meanwhile, has no other choice but to extend his working hours as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Currently, he has to work 14 hours straight in a day because most of his Chinese office mates are under quarantine after coming from a vacation in mainland China.

“Lahat ng worker na galing sa China, quarantine ng 14 days bago sila pumasok sa site. Tapos ang mga staff naman, ang meeting namin sa mga consultant, online na ginaganap para maiwasan ang virus (All workers who returned from China are under 14-days quarantine that’s before they’ll be allowed to come to the site for work. Then, staff meetings with consultants are now being done online to prevent the spread of the virus),” Jorge, a mechanical and electrical supervisor, explained.

“Ang epekto sa amin, kulang po kami ng manpower kaya karamihan nag-e-extend po ang staff na nagta-trabaho. Tapos may pasok na po kami ng Sabado due to lack of manpower (The effect on us is lack of manpower so most of us in the office extend for additional hours. We are also required now to come to the office on Saturdays due to lack of manpower),” he added.

As of Wednesday (February 19), the Ministry of Health (MOH) reported three new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number infected to 84.

This makes Singapore the third country with the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection after China and Japan.

Of the 84, a total of 50 are still in hospital while the other 34 already recovered and discharged.

Most of those in the hospitals are already in stable condition with only four remain critical.

The World Health Organization (WHO) lauded Singapore’s efforts in handling cases of COVID-19.

“We are very impressed with the efforts they are making to find every case, follow up with contacts and stop transmission,” said World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Singapore is leaving no stone unturned, testing every case of influenza-like illness and pneumonia, and so far they have not found evidence of community transmission,” he added.

Singapore’s campaign against the spread of coronavirus came strong as its leaders, led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, lead the efforts themselves.

On February 8, Prime Minister Lee posted a video on his Facebook in three languages encouraging Singaporeans to stay united and resolute, assuring them that the country is much prepared now than it was 17 years ago during the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars).

Among the measures the Singapore government has taken into place is the intensified contact tracing and monitoring; the implementation of the new ‘Stay-Home Notice’ for 14 days for Singapore residents and long-term pass holders returning from mainland China (outside of Hubei). MNP (with inputs from Annie Mancilla)

Lifesaver tips: What to do if someone is having a stroke

Robie de Guzman   •   February 14, 2020

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stroke is one of the leading causes of deaths worldwide.

In its report, the WHO said that of the 56.9 million deaths worldwide in 2016, stroke and Ischaemic heart disease accounted for a combined 15.2 million deaths.

A stroke occurs when there’s bleeding in your brain or when blood flow to the brain is blocked or limited.

Its risk factors include having high blood pressure, had a previous stroke, smoking, diabetes and heart disease. A person’s risk of stroke also increases with age.

A stroke is a true emergency that needs quick action.

When a person is having a stroke, every second counts and quick intervention may increase a person’s chance of survival and reduce the risk of long-term disability.

Strokes, depending on its severity, can carry a number of sudden, telltale signs, including:

  • Drooping on one side of the face
  • Difficulty in lifting of one or both arms to its full weight
  • Slurred or difficulty with talking and understanding speech
  • Loss of vision
  • Difficulty in walking, dizziness
  • Loss of balance or consciousness

The WHO said that having sudden severe headache with no known cause is another potential sign that one might be having a stroke.

According to UNTV’s Lifesaver program, a bystander should use F.A.S.T to help remember warning signs in the event of possible stroke:

  • Face. Does the face droop on one side when the person tries to smile?
  • Arms. Can the person lift his/her one arm to its full weight?
  • Speech. Is the person having a slurred speech or difficulty with talking and understanding speech?
  • Time. If you observe any of these signs, immediately call a local emergency number.

What should you do while waiting for the emergency medical service to arrive?

  • Remain calm. Talk to the person and reassure him or her that help is on the way.
  • If the person is conscious, gently place them into a comfortable position but do not try to move them any further.
  • Do not give them any food or liquids.
  • Note the person’s symptoms and look for any changes in condition. Also try to remember the time when symptoms started. It is important to give the emergency medical responder as much information as possible about the person’s situation.
  • If he or she falls unconscious, monitor their airway and breathing by lifting the person’s chin and tilt their head slightly backward. Look to see if their chest is moving or listen for breathing sounds.
  • If there are no signs of breathing, start performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

During a medical emergency situation, always remember to stay focused and take action quickly.

Watch these episodes of Lifesaver below for more information on the early signs of stroke:

Drone footage captures ash-covered marine life in Balayan Bay

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 29, 2020

UNTV’s underwater drone captured the sorry state of Balayan Bay’s marine life which has been covered in a blanket of volcanic ash from Taal Volcano’s eruption.

Joey Devilla, one of the fishermen in San Luis, said they were finding it difficult to catch fish since the eruption of the Taal volcano. He said there were large amounts of ashfall underwater of Balayan Bay.

“Putik ang ilalim, talaga hong makikita niyo na medyo madilim tsaka wala kayong makikitang maliit na isda (The underwater is murky, you can abrely see anything below and you cannot see any small fishes),” he said.

“Hindi na po nakakahuli ng dulong (silver fish) simula noong pumatak ang maraming ashfall dito sa amin. Kaya po medyo mahirap ngayon ang buhay dahil ito lang ang pinagkakakitaan namin dito sa San Luis (I can no longer catch any silver fish since the ashfall. Life has been quite difficult here [fishing] has been one of our main livelihood here in San Luis),” he added.

UNTV’s drone journalism, which includes air and underwater drone, was spearheaded by Kuya Daniel Razon to provide more detailed information on news reports.

The UNTV drone journalism has already covered several new reports including the Manila Bay Rehabilitation, Star City fire and more.—AAC

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