Title: Quantitative measurements of lead and cadmium in select street foods sold in Taft Avenue, Manila

ClairePike Balubal

Quality and Safety Inspector At Cebu Pacific Air, Philippines


Claire P. Balubal was born and raised in a poor neighborhood in  Manila,  Philippines on April 13, 1994. She graduated from St. Scholastica’s College, with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and proceeded to work as a Quality and Safety  Inspector in Cebu Pacific Air , an established local airline. She’s  been working for  the airline for two frenetic, nonetheless, enjoyable years.

Her graduate thesis was acknowledged among the scientific community due to its focus on the quantitative measurements of lead and cadmium in the street food sold along Taft Avenue, Manila. It exhibited the possible inclusion of heavy metals as a health risk in street foods, which can have insidious side effects, beside harmful microorganisms. Though she is a Biology major, the Filipino culture were more frightened of these microorganisms that she thought brining awareness to other detrimental factors is paramount.

In her free time, Claire loves to pole dance and enjoys going out with friends. She plans to further her studies by taking Medicine and she also dreams of running her own pole dancing studio , Make up line and a Restaurant one day. She was grateful  for growing up in a God-fearing family which she credits for her future and current success.


Heavy metals are toxic substances which can be transmitted through air and can pollute bodies of water. They may contaminate a variety of products, including street foods. In  this study calamares (fried squid rings) and isaw  ( grilled chicken intestines) samples  were obtained from two (2) separate stalls in different locations along Taft  Avenue, Manila. One kilogram of each sample was analyzed for lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd) content using Inductive Coupled Plasma- Atomic Absorption ( ICP-OES) Spectrophotometry. The results showed that the level of cadmium (Cd) present in the calamares samples exceeded the provisional tolerable weekly intake of 0.025 ppm set by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2010. On the other hand, the level of lead (Pb) from the same samples was below the provisional tolerable weekly intake of 3 mg of lead/person, equivalent to 0.05 mg/kg b.w. for adults, set by IPCS  INCHEM  Organization, the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. The  lead  content for calamares from both Estrada Street and Pedro Gil was lower than the provisional tolerable weekly intake. For future researcher it is recommended that other heavy metals should also be studied. Nowadays, pollution along area where vehicles are numerous is getting worse despite measure done by the government such as anti-smoke belching law. It is also recommended that leaded gasoline be totally banned, Thus minimizing lead contamination of food sold along streets. Other streets or places where there are many street vendors that sell different kinds of food should also be studied.

The results of these studies done and still to be done should serve as a basis for  information campaign on heavy metals contamination of food.

Audience take away:

  • This study can be an eye opener to the people for them to be aware on what the heavy metals are, how it can be accumulated in our body and also how to prevent   it.
  • The study would help the street food consumers to become more aware of the possibility of the presence of heavy metals in street  food. Thus, they would be more cautious when they buy street food.
  • The study would help the street food vendors to become aware that heavy metals might be present in the food that they purchase and sell. Knowing this possibility would help them make necessary changes and decisions   as to where they should purchase what they sell and where and how to sell them in such a worry that contamination of heavy metals is avoided.
  • The study would help Schools in monitoring the food sold in their canteen for the possible heavy metal content and other factors such as cooking oil, utensils and even the ingredients used since food contaminated with heavy metals is not restricted to street food.
  • The study would help enhance the research skills of the researcher  and become more aware of the heavy metals present in the street foods as well as  the level of these heavy metals.