Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Inquirer Headlines

Drought, typhoons cost agriculture P953M
Cavite governor stays after suspension order served late
Police officer runs amuck; kills 3 colleagues, self
Hospitals churn out 7,800 kilos of harmful wastes daily
6 alleged Abu Sayyaf members nabbed in Sulu
Gonzalez shuffles prosecutors in Nida Blanca slay case
US-RP war games start; 1,200 US troops arrive
Syndicate on fake dollar notes busted in Mindanao
Communist rebel killed, 8 captured in Cordillera
DepEd teachers, workers to undergo random drug tests
DoH declares dengue alert
Magazine editor files raps vs actress Barreto
153 French citizens died in Venezuela plane crash--execs
Internet conmen target British tsunami victims' families
Malaysia, Singapore call for ASEAN response to haze crisis
Australia seeks 20,000 skilled immigrants
Japanese quake 7.2 on Richter scale--Strasbourg observatory
Catholics gather in Germany to await Pope
Moderate quake shakes northern Japan
Cambodian PM blames foreign countries for cellphone porn
Japan's ruling party calls up 'Net whizkid for snap polls
Urine-powered micro battery invented by Singapore institute

Toxic Waste

Hospitals churn out 7,800 kilos of harmful wastes daily

Veronica Uy

THE COUNTRY'S 200 hospitals produce an estimated 7,800 kilos of biomedical waste every day and most are not properly disposed of, Senator Pia Cayetano said Tuesday.

During a hearing on biomedical and hazardous wastes, Cayetano said only six disposal facilities are available in the country: five in Luzon, and one in the Visayas. Not a single facility is available in Mindanao, she said.

Cayetano said these biochemical and hazardous wastes are just thrown "anywhere," endangering people's health and the country's environment.

The hearing seeks to institute mechanisms to regulate and manage proper disposal of these wastes, said Cayetano, head of the Senate committee on health and demography and environment and natural resources.

Biochemical wastes include injection needles, used cotton, and internal organs removed during surgery. Hazardous wastes include batteries of cars, mobile phones, and wrist watches; toilet cleaners; and fluorescent bulbs.

Department of Health


Agri Loss

Drought, typhoons cost agriculture P953M

Christine Gaylican cgaylican@inquirer.com.ph
Inquirer News Service

WEATHER disturbances in the past weeks have affected the agriculture sector resulting in an estimated production loss of 953 million pesos, the Department of Agriculture said Tuesday.

The onslaught of tropical typhoons "Gorio" (international codename: Matsa) and "Huaning" (international codename: Sanvu) and the insufficient rainfall in Northern Luzon from July until the first week of August affected the planting and harvest of rice, corn, vegetables, fisheries, livestock and poultry.

The DA said damage to corn accounted for 5 percent of the national annual production target of 5.5 million metric tons, while damage to rice accounted for 0.2 percent of the national annual rice target of 14.75 million metric tons.

"The decrease in the production of rice and corn in the affected regions can be partially compensated by the projected good production in Mindanao," the DA report said.

Rehabilitation of affected areas are already underway and affected farmers have been given seeds for planting.

Typhoon "Huaning" affected towns in the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Apayao and Mt. Province resulting in a production loss of 16 million pesos.

Continuous rains affected areas in Southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao resulting in a production loss of 70.8 million pesos, of which 80 percent was damage to palay.

Insufficient rainfall in Regions I and II also resulted in production loss placed at 866.4 million pesos.

Cloud seeding operations were conducted in the affected areas between July 28 to August 5 to save the standing crops and prevent additional damages.

Urine Power

Urine-powered micro battery invented by Singapore institute

Agence France-Presse

SINGAPORE -- A Singapore scientific institute on Tuesday said it has invented a urine-powered micro battery that can be used in disposable test kits for diabetes and other diseases.

The state-funded Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology said a drop of urine placed on the paper battery will generate enough electricity to power a "biochip device" that can analyze the urine sample for disease "biomarkers."

"We are striving to develop cheap, disposable credit card-sized biochips for disease," the institute's principal research scientist Dr. Lee Ki Bang said in a press statement.

"Our battery can be easily integrated into such devices, supplying electricity upon contact with biofluids such as urine," Lee added.

Urine is widely used to test for signs of various diseases and as an indicator of a persons general state of health, the institute said. The concentration of glucose in urine is a useful diagnostic tool for diabetics.

The battery unit consists of a cathode sandwiched between an anode and an electron-collecting layer. These are then held in place through a lamination process which coats the battery unit between transparent plastic films.

Lee said that someday, people would be able to monitor their health easily at home, seeking medical attention only when necessary, thanks to the patented invention.

"These fully integrated biochip systems have a huge market potential," he said.

Singapore is pouring billions of dollars into cutting-edge research and development programs in a bid to expand its biomedical sciences industry and reduce its dependence on assembly-line manufacturing.

A government-appointed panel has recommended that Singapore raise its research and development spending to 12 billion Singapore dollars over the next five years.

The amount proposed is more than double the five billion dollars spent on research and development from 2001 to 2005.