Taal volcanic smog spreads to Metro Manila, nearby provinces

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 30 2021 07:14 AM | Updated as of Jun 30 2021 01:38 PM

Taal volcanic smog spreads to Metro Manila, nearby provinces 1
Parts of Taal Volcano island is obscured by volcanic smog as sulfur dioxide emanates from the volcano’s crater as seen from Talisay, Batangas on June 29, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (2nd UPDATE)—Taal Volcano continues to release volcanic smog that has reached Metro Manila and nearby provinces, aside from Tanauan city and Talisay town in Batangas, Phivolcs said Wednesday.

The "vog" has also reached other parts of Batangas, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan and Zambales, according to the latest Phivolcs bulletin.

The haze over the National Capital Region, reported previously as "mainly due to smog from human activities," was confirmed in an updated tweet by Phivolcs as sulfur dioxide.

A 1-kilometer warm layer of air is preventing cooler air near the ground to rise, trapping pollutants and driving the accumulation of smog over the region, Phivolcs said.

The temperature inversion might dissipate within 24 to 48 hours, said Phivolcs officer-in-charge Renato Solidum.

"Stay indoors muna, kung 'di kailangan lumabas," Solidum said in an interview with ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(Stay indoors if you don't need to go outside.)

Phivolcs had urged residents, most especially those staying around Taal Lake, to wear N-95 masks, and close windows and doors to block pollutants. 

"Ito po ay nagiging sanhi ng irritation sa lalamunan at nahihirapan huminga," Solidum said.

(It causes throat irritation and difficulty in breathing.)

The vog or air pollution due to volcanic gas was due to Taal's continued emission of high sulfur-dioxide levels over the weekend, Phivolcs had said.

"It consists of fine droplets containing volcanic gas such as [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," it said. 

The release of sulfur dioxide means the magma beneath the volcano is being degassed, Solidum said. 

"At 'yong posibilidad ng steam-driven explosion ay nandyan, kaya bawal pong pumunta sa volcano island," he said.

(The possibility of a steam-driven explosion remains so going to the volcano island is prohibited.)

In a separate interview on ANC, Solidum urged local government units to conduct health checks if residents nearby Taal are experiencing breathing problems.

"The advice is for them to temporarily evacuate to safer areas if indeed a particular area is suffering from this extreme condition from the presence of sulfur dioxide gas," he said.

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In Talisay, the local government is procuring N95 masks for residents, none of whom have so far been evacuated, Mayor Jerry Natanauan said.

"Ngayong umaga, kitang-kita naman umuusok ang bulkan. Ang mga tao, hindi maalis ang pag-alalala sa pinapakitang pag-usok at yung volcanic smog. Halos ilang linggo na ito na may volcanic smog," he said.

(This morning, we can clearly see that the volcano is emitting smoke. People cannot stop worrying about the smoke and the volcanic smog, which has been ongoing for a few weeks.)

"Para sa'king mga kababayan, tayo po ay sana lagi nakahanda dapat sa mga pagkakataong ito na pinapakita ng activity ng ating bulkan at volcanic smog nararamdaman natin sa ating kalusugan."

(To the public, I hope you are always prepared for these situations, such as the volcanic smog and the increased volcanic activity.)

Taal Volcano remains under Alert Level 2, signifying "increased unrest" that warns of a probable magmatic activity that may or may not lead to an eruption, according to the Phivolcs.

The volcano, which sits on an island surrounded by a lake in Batangas, had a steam-driven eruption on January 12, 2020, triggering an ash fall that reached parts of Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

The eruption displaced more than 700,000 people in Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Metro Manila. Damage to infrastructure and agriculture in the provinces of Batangas, Cavite and Laguna was pegged at P3.4 billion, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

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