Is Dolomite Sand an Effective Beach Nourishment in Manila Bay?

Is Dolomite Sand an Effective Beach Nourishment in Manila Bay?

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After Metro Manila was reduced to Alert Level 3, the man-made 140-meter dolomite beach at Manila Bay reopened last Saturday, attracting dozens of promenaders and picnickers.

Photo Courtesy: Philippine News Agency

The Manila Baywalk Dolomite Beach, also known as Dolomite Beach, is an artificial beach produced through the technique of beach nourishment in Manila Bay in Manila, Philippines. The project is part of the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program, which was begun by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu in January 2019 in response to a Supreme Court injunction to safeguard the bay from decades of pollution and urban blight.


What is Dolomite Sand and why did it come into play in this project?

Environmental Ombudsman urged to probe Manila Bay dolomite dumping

Photo Courtesy: The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

Dolomite has been around for a long time, but it wasn’t until recently that it piqued the attention of many Filipinos.

The white sand used was actually crushed dolomite, a calcium magnesium carbonate, delivered to Manila from Cebu province. But why did dolomite come into play in this project?

Dolomite, also known as calcium magnesium carbonate, is a non-metallic mineral used in bricks, mortar, cement, concrete, polymers, paving materials, and other building products. The rock is thought to occur when limestone is changed by magnesium-rich groundwater in warm, shallow marine conditions.

It’s crushed and graded to be used as a road base, concrete and asphalt aggregate, railroad ballast, rip-rap, or fill. It’s also used to make cement, and it’s carved into blocks of a specified size called “dimension stone.”

It has low solubility, making it resistant to rain and soil acidity. It’s utilized in the chemical industry to neutralize acids, as well as in-stream and beach restoration projects, and as a soil conditioner. As a result, crushed dolomite is employed in the beach replenishment of Manila Bay.

Beach nourishment, on the other hand, does not stop erosion; rather, it only delays it for a brief period of time. Beach nourishment is a soft engineering alternative to hard shore structures (such as seawalls and groins) for creating a natural beach environment for the bay, burying shore protection structures to eliminate negative effects, and retaining sediment volumes to respond to rising sea levels caused by climate change.


French Riviera also features dolomite

Photo Courtesy: Getty

Manila Bay isn’t the first to have dolomite. The French Riviera is a magnificent coastline that runs along the Mediterranean Sea in the southeast of France.

It is a famous tourist destination with both natural and man-made shorelines. Even though

space at the original site was restricted, the late twentieth century saw the creation of man-made beaches in response to population growth and visitor demand.

Today, 21.5 percent of the French Riviera is made up of man-built shorelines that serve as tourist beaches, yachting harbors, and reclamation fill. Fine sand or gravel extracted from limestone, sandstone, and dolomite was used to form these shorelines. They were utilized to renovate existing natural beaches to make them more appealing to tourists, as well as to provide room to the French Riviera.

Health or aesthetics?

Despite the fact that the material is typically considered non-toxic in the construction industry, some studies have linked high levels of dolomite dust exposure to respiratory diseases.

In early September last year, as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) began laying out white sand made from crushed dolomite rocks to act as white sand and beautify the area, the Department of Health (DOH)  initially warned about the respiratory risks posed by crushed dolomite rocks, but later clarified that dolomite is not a health hazard in its bulk state.

Photo Courtesy: DENR

Moreover, according to a study published in the Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal in 2012, “symptoms such as regular cough, phlegm, wheezing, productive cough, and shortness of breath were much more prevalent among exposed workers” utilizing dolomite in a dam project. “No major abnormalities were identified in the chest radiographs of both exposed and non-exposed individuals,” according to the same study. These data imply that while dolomite dust can cause mild respiratory difficulties, the study was unable to verify that long-term exposure to the materials will result in serious illnesses.


Safety reminders!

Whether or not dolomite is harmful, it is still a good idea to follow some safety precautions. Exposure to dolomite dust, in particular, can be risky, so be careful to follow these safety precautions:

  • Wearing an N95 mask while working in a facility that handles dolomite dust or sand is a smart idea to avoid breathing it in.

  • It’s also a good idea to wear long-sleeved shirts to avoid skin discomfort.

  • Try to stay away from dusty locations as much as possible. If at all possible, patients with respiratory issues should avoid dolomite dust or sand.

  • When cleaning up dolomite sand or dust, using vacuums can assist prevent inhalation of microscopic particles.

  • Dolomite dust and sand should be stored and transformed properly as well.


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