BEWARE: Manila Bay is still NOT CLEAN


Photos are going around online showing many people visiting the Manila Bay area after the major clean-up activity performed last January 2019. This is quite alarming because people should be aware that the bay is still not ‘clean’ and poses certain health risks. It may appear to be tidier than before but it’s still critically unsafe because of the pollution and of the microbial contaminations. The clean-up only removed tangible objects on the bay area but not the chemicals, microplastics, harmful microorganisms, and more materials not visible to the naked eye.

Chemicals in Manila Bay

Heavy Metals

A previous study conducted by a group of researchers has shown that considerable amounts of heavy metals particularly cadmium, total lead, and total chromium does exist in the water and the different fish and macroinvertebrate species [1]. A separate study showed that lead concentrations are found in fish species muscles and this causes for the disintegration in the muscle fibers of all the fishes [2].

Health damages acquirable from Manila Bay

While the most common water pollution diseases involve poisoning episodes affecting the digestive system and/or causing human infectious diseases, water pollution may also cause the following health damages:


Biohazards (pathogenic microorganisms)


According to a study, it was investigated that 67 phytoplankton species and 93 bacterial isolates are present in the areas of Manila Bay. Among the phytoplankton, 15 isolates are potentially harmful and these include Chaetoceros spp., Pseudo-nitzchia spp., Skeletonema tropicum, Thalassiora spp., Akashiwo sanguineneum, Alexandrium spp., Ceratium furca, Ceratium fusus, Dinophysis caudata, Dinophysis miles, Gymnodinium spp., Noctiluca scintillans, Prorocentrum micans, Prorocentrum rhathymum, and Prorocentrum sigmoides. And among the identified bacterial isolates, three has been reported as pathogenic bacteria – Gordonia bronchialis, Kytococcus sedentarius, and Microbacterium oleivorans [3].

Diseases caused by polluted beach water, including [4]:


Infectious diseases caused by pathogens from animal fecal origins, of which the most common occurrence in developing countries, including [4]:


Government control measures

In 2018, an order has been issued banning swimming in Manila Bay, The Department of Health (DOH) has also warned that it is not safe to swim in Manila Bay, citing health issues. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had previously reported that the coliform level in Manila Bay had reached as much as 330 mpn/100 mL, which is 3.3 million percent over the standard.

Environmental issues

The cleanup activity is a long shot to really solving the pollution problem in the Manila Bay, To reduce the pollution in the Manila Bay and to attain a healthy body of water, people should tackle the problem at its root source and that is the entry of pollutants in the water. Solutions are the following:

  1. Prevent the entry of pollutants into the Manila Bay or any bodies of water connected to the Manila Bay.
  2. Reduce the usage of plastics and any other materials that are polluting Manila Bay
  3. Conduct regular monitoring and clean up of Manila Bay
  4. Training or edification of individuals, organizations, or companies on proper disposal of waste materials.

With the on-going pollution problem in Manila Bay, another environmental issue is arising and that is the reclamations in areas of Manila Bay. The Philippine government has approved the reclamation of Manila Bay and now has sparked concerns from environmental organizations. |




  1. Sia su, G., Martillano, K.J., Alcantara, T.P., Ragragio, E., De Jesus, J., Hallare, A., & Ramos, G. 2009. Assessing heavy metals in the waters, fish, and microinvertebrates in Manila Bay, Philippines. J. Appl. Sci. Environ. Sanit. 4(3), 187-195.
  2. Sia Su, G., Ramos, G., & Sia Su, M.L. 2013. Bioaccumulation and histopathological alteration of total lead in selected fishes from Manila Bay, Philippines. Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences 20, 353-355.
  3. Azanza, R., Austero, N., Dungca, J.C., Caspe, F.J., & Khandeparker, L. 2018. Phytoplankton and bacterial communities in South Harbor, Manila Bay, Philippines. ASEAN Journal on Science & Technology for Development, Vol. 35, No. 1-2, 107-113.
  4. Environmental Pollution Centers. 2017. Water Pollution Diseases, (


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