Residents near Taal told to take precautions vs volcanic smog

Marlon Luistro - Philstar.com
Residents near Taal told to take precautions vs volcanic smog
This January 2020 file photo shows a fisherman on the Laurel, Batangas side of Taal Lake
Philstar.com / Efigenio Toledo IV, file

BATANGAS, Philippines (The Filipino Connection— The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology on Monday warned residents living near Taal Volcano against the effects of volcanic smog or 'vog'.

Vog is a type of pollution caused by volcanoes and consists of droplets containing volcanic gas such as sulfur dioxide. It is acidic and can cause irritation of the eyes, throat and respiratory tract in severities depending on the gas concentrations of exposure.

Among those vulnerable to vog's ill effects are those with health conditions such as asthma, lung disease and heart disease, as well as the elderly, pregnant women and children.

Should sulfur dioxide emission continue at the same rate – the past week average was 4330 tons per day – or increase and atmospheric conditions promote the formation of vog, communities surrounding the Taal Lake are likewise advised to take necessary precautions.

Phivolcs said they should limit exposure and avoid outdoor activities. People are also advised to stay indoors and shut doors and windows to block out vog.

Authorities also advised residents near the volcano to wear N95 face masks, drink plenty of water to reduce any throat irritation or constriction. Those with health conditions are advised to watch over themselves and seek help from a doctor or the barangay health unit if needed. They are also advised to seek the doctor of the barangay health unit in case serious effects are experienced.

In its 6 a.m. advisory, Phivolcs said high levels of volcanic sulfur dioxide gas emissions and 3-kilometer-high steam-rich plumes have been observed from Taal's main crater in the past two days.

The agency on Sunday recorded an average of 4711 tons / day of sulfur dioxide emission. Also observed at the Taal Volcano were atmospheric temperatures of 30 °C, relative humidity of 75% and wind velocities that slowed from 1 to 0 meters per second at near surface levels.

"These atmospheric conditions especially the near-absence of air movement resulted in the formation of volcanic  smog or vog that brought pronounced haze over the Taal Caldera region," Phivolcs said in its advisory.

Taal Volcano remains at Alert Level 2 and because of this, the public is reminded that the threat of sudden steam or gas-driven explosions and lethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas can occur within and around Taal Volcano Island.

Phivolcs also reminded the public that Taal Volcano Island is a declared permanent danger zone and entry to the area remains strictly prohibited.

The Filipino Connection is a regional partner of Philstar.com.

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