DOH warns vs sulfur dioxide exposure as highest level recorded in Taal

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 05 2021 02:07 PM | Updated as of Jul 05 2021 02:22 PM

DOH warns vs sulfur dioxide exposure as highest level recorded in Taal 1
Evacuees from Barangay Gulod alight from a truck at the Bilaran Elementary School turned into a temporary evacuation center in Batangas on July 1, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Health officials on Monday warned the public not to go near Taal Volcano after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said it has recorded the highest sulfur dioxide emission around the rumbling volcano over the weekend.

Those who may be exposed to sulfur dioxide should immediately take a bath or wash areas exposed to the toxic substance, said Dr. Voltaire Guadalupe, head of Calabarzon region's Health Emergency Medical Service.

Inhaling sulfur dioxide may lead to "irritation of the respiratory tract, so asthmatics should be very wary," he said.

It may also cause irritation of the eyes and skin "if there is high concentration, so we need to wear protective equipment," he added.

"We can wash all exposed areas, especially our skin," Guadalupe said.

"Siguro mas maganda na 'wag natin papagpagin ang ating mga damit or other surfaces when we have been to areas with high sulfur dioxide emissions," he advised.

(It might be better if we avoid dusting clothes and surfaces when we have been to areas with high sulfur dioxide emissions.)

The Taal volcano has been emitting 22,000 tons of sulfur dioxide per day, said DOST Undersecretary and Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum.

"Ito po yung pinakamataas na sulfur dioxide na measurement even [compared to] last year after it erupted," he said in an online press conference.

(This is the highest sulfur dioxide measurement even compared to last year after it erupted.)

Last year, sulfur dioxide from the Taal volcano reached 5,000 tons, whereas last week's measurement ranged between 13,000 and 14,200 tons, he said.

"Kahit po mag-disperse ang sulfur dioxide, basta it's at a higher altitude, walang effect sa tao yun. What it can do is affect the rays of the sun," he said.

(Even if sulfur dioxide is dispersed, as long as it's at a higher altitude, it won't have effect on humans. What it can do is affect the rays of the sun.)

"Puwedeng magkaroon ng sulfur dioxide smell kapag may pagbagsak ng abo. Ang talagang concerned lang diyan ay yung nandoon sa volcano at sa Taal lake," he said.

(There can be a sulfur dioxide smell when there is ash fall. The only ones who should be concerned are those who are staying near the volcano and at the Taal lake.)

Phivolcs recorded a 45-minute volcanic tremor in Taal early Monday.

"Baka magkaroon pa rin ng explosion... Ito ay nagpapahiwatig na may pagkilos ng gas o magma," he said.

(There might be another explosion... It is a sign there is movement of gas or magma.)

The Taal volcano last erupted in January 2020, leaving parts of Batangas and Cavite cloaked in hot ash and thick mud.

Video from the Department of Health