Hazardous smog spreads to communities surrounding Taal Volcano — Phivolcs

Published August 20, 2021, 9:40 AM

by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz


Taal Volcano’s continuous release of volcanic smog or “vog” has caused hazy conditions over Taal Lake and its surrounding municipalities in Batangas in the past 24 hours, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said on Friday, Aug. 20.

Phivolcs said it has received reports of the vog’s adverse effects on some residents in Talisay town, and Barangay Barigon in Agoncillo town.

It explained that volcanic smog 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.

People particularly sensitive to such ill effects are those with underlying health conditions such as asthma, lung disease, and heart disease, as well as the elderly, pregnant women, and children.

Phivolcs advised those living in communities surrounding Taal Lake to protect themselves from the vog.

“Avoid outdoor activities, stay indoors, and shut doors and windows to block out vog. Cover [your] nose, ideally with an N95 facemask. Drink plenty of water to reduce any throat irritation or constriction,” it said.

“If belonging to the particularly sensitive group of people above, watch over yourself and seek help from a doctor or the barangay health unit if needed. If serious effects are experienced, call the doctor or the barangay health unit,” it added.

In the past 24 hours, Phivolcs measured Taal Volcano’s sulfur dioxide emission at 12,257 tonnes, which is considered relatively high as compared to previous weeks.

The activity at the main crater was also dominated by the upwelling of hot volcanic fluids which generated plumes 1,500 meters tall.

Moreover, Taal registered 64 volcanic earthquakes including 50 tremor events having durations of two to 24 minutes, 14 low-frequency volcanic earthquakes, and low-level background tremor that has persisted since July 7.

Phivolcs noted that Taal Volcano remains at Alert Level 2 due to “decreased unrest.” It has been under this status since July 23, 2021.

As Taal Volcano remains under Alert Level 2, it means that sudden steam- or gas-driven explosions, volcanic earthquakes, minor ashfall, and lethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas can occur and threaten areas within and around the volcano island.

Phivolcs reminded the public that entry into the Taal Volcano Island, especially the vicinities of the main crater and the Daang Kastila fissure, is strictly prohibited.

Boating on Taal Lake must also be prohibited, it added.