Phivolcs: Taal volcanic smog spread to Metro Manila, nearby provinces

MANILA (AdChoiceTV News) — The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said Wednesday there is evidence that sulfur dioxide from Taal Volcano in Batangas reached Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

The clarification came a day after state volcanologists said the haze that covered Metro Manila on Tuesday was due to pollution caused by human activities and not from emissions from Taal Volcano.

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“Our institute had initially negated these observations due to the lack of substantiating evidence on our part and the general wind direction of wind and [sulfur dioxide] dispersal from Taal to the northeast and east since 28 June 2021,” PHIVOLCS said.

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The agency said satellite information on Monday and Tuesday showed the sulfur dioxide plumes extended from the planetary boundary layer to the upper troposphere and mostly spread over Batangas, Cavite, Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan, Zambales, and the National Capital Region.

Satellite detection on Tuesday showed an even larger coverage of Luzon island.

PHIVOLCS said it “stands to acknowledge evidence of the wider extents that volcanic [sulfur dioxide] have actually spread over the [National Capital Region] and adjoining provinces and gives credence to the many observations that the public have communicated.”

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The institute said the incident served as a reminder of the value of uncertainty and the limitations of data, the value of citizen observation, and the need to constantly challenge its own perceptions and ideas. 

Sulfur dioxide in the air

On Monday, PHIVOLCS said people living near Taal Volcano should take precautions against volcanic smog or vog formed because of atmospheric conditions and sulfur dioxide emissions from the volcano, where Alert Level 2 remains hoisted.

According to the latest bulletin, sulfur dioxide emissions were at 8,982 tons on Tuesday.

Sulfur dioxide could affect sensitive groups such as those with heart and respiratory problems, the elderly, children, and pregnant women.

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Phivolcs said people at risk of exposure to the volcanic gas should wear N95 face masks or gas masks, and drink plenty of water to help alleviate irritation and difficulty in breathing. They should also stay away from the source of sulfur dioxide and stay indoors.

/ART — AdChoiceTV News (Manila)

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