Phivolcs warns residents to take precautions over Taal volcanic smog

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MANILA – The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned locals around Taal Lake on Monday to take precautions if volcanic smog (vog) over the crater of Taal Volcano persists.

Vog is a type of air pollution caused by volcanoes.

“It consists of fine droplets containing volcanic gas such as SO2 (sulfur dioxide) which is acidic and can cause irritation of the eyes, throat, and respiratory tract in severities depending on the gas concentrations and durations of exposure,” Phivolcs said in an advisory.

Those with medical conditions like as asthma, lung ailment, and heart disease, as well as the elderly, pregnant women, and children, are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of vog, according to the agency.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), vog is hazardous to one’s health since it aggravates pre-existing respiratory problems.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas may cause irritation to the skin, eyes, nose, and throat. Furthermore, the aerosol particles in vog may reach the lungs and cause asthma symptoms.

Difficulty in breathing, headaches, watery eyes, sore throat, flu-like symptoms, and increased susceptibility to respiratory diseases are among the concerns associated with vog exposure, according to the USGS.

Phivolcs recommended people to stay home, use a N95 mask, and drink plenty of water.

The vog was caused by the continuing production of SO2 from Taal’s main crater. This was also due to the atmospheric conditions and the lack of air circulation.

For the past two days, SO2 emissions and steam-rich plumes have reached up to three kilometers high.

On June 27, the SO2 flux averaged at 4,771 tons per day.

“Atmospheric temperatures of 30 ºC, relative humidity of 75 percent and wind velocities that slowed to 1 to 0 meters/second at near-surface levels prevailed over Taal Volcano Island,” the advisory read.

Since March 9, Taal Volcano has been on alert level 2 (increasing unrest).

This means that unexpected steam- or gas-driven explosions, volcanic earthquakes, small ashfall, and fatal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas are possible, posing a threat to areas within and near Taal Volcano Island (TVI).

It must be strongly prohibited to enter TVI, Taal’s permanent danger zone.

Phivolcs has recommended local government authorities to regularly examine and reinforce the preparedness of previously evacuated barangays around Taal Lake in anticipation of recurrent unrest.

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