MANILA – Phivolcs on Tuesday said the volcanic smog or vog is no longer visible in the Taal region amid a minimal thermal inversion and a reduced emission of sulfur dioxide from the Taal Volcano.
Phivolcs Director Dr. Teresito Bacolcol said the threat of vog would remain as long as the volcano continues to spew sulfur dioxide.
Bacolcol added that despite the activity Taal Volcano showed last week, Phivolcs still does not see any need to raise the alert level from 1 to 2.
“Hindi lang sulfur dioxide ang parameters, but also the number of quakes which, for past four days, walang narecord kahit isa,” he said.
Bacolcol said prolonged exposure to vog is as concerning as a volcanic eruption amid the hazards it poses to public health.
Thermal inversion also played a part in preventing sulfur dioxide from dispersing and instead remained suspended in the air and obscured the surrounding, he said.
The Philippine College of Physicians said particles of sulfur dioxide are more than 40 times smaller than talc, making them easy to be inhaled.
Because sulfur dioxide is also highly soluble in water, it is more easily absorbed in the lining of the eyes, mouth, nose, throat and the respiratory tract.
“It creates very serious damage to air sacs leading to inappropriate gas exchange, low oxygen concentration in blood. It can cause skin rashes and bacterial infection in the long run because of open wounds from frequent scratching,” said Dr. Beatriz Tan-Helera.
Sulfur dioxide can also cause skin irritation and bacterial infection in the long run because of open wounds due to frequent scratching.
Headaches and dizziness are also common among those who have inhaled sulfur dioxide in large amounts.
One can tell if the air contains sulfur dioxide.
Bacolcol said that sulfur dioxide has a strong, irritating and pungent odor compared to the odorless carbon dioxide.
People especially those living in communities near volcanoes are advised to take precautionary measures.
These include avoiding outdoor activities to lessen exposure to vog as well as wearing protective clothing, facemasks and eyewear. Closing windows and doors will also prevent the chemical from making its way inside homes.
If an individual is highly exposed to sulfur dioxide, they are advised to drink plenty of water.
Data from the Philippine College of Physicians showed that at least 50 people were affected by the recent vog that smothered the province of Batangas.