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Volcanic smog in Taal prompts health advisory, class suspensions—here's what to do

By Camille Santiago Published Sep 22, 2023 12:01 pm Updated Sep 22, 2023 3:10 pm

Several local government units in Calabarzon have suspended classes as "high levels" of volcanic smog or vog have been observed from the Taal Volcano.

Classes at all levels in public and private schools are suspended in some towns of Batangas, Cavite, and Laguna.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) reported that 4,600 tons per day of sulfur dioxide was released by Taal Volcano on Thursday. It also placed Taal Volcano on Alert Level 1, which means that the condition is still "abnormal" and "should not be interpreted to have ceased unrest nor ceased the threat of eruptive activity."

What health hazards are posed by vog?

Vog causes vog, an acidic gas that can severely irritate the eyes, throat, and respiratory tract.

PHIVOLCS warned that vog is particularly harmful to individuals with asthma, lung disease, heart disease, the elderly, pregnant women, and children.

The United States Geological Survey also said that vog exposure could cause "headaches, breathing difficulties, increased susceptibility to respiratory ailments, watery eyes, sore throat, flu-like symptoms, and a general lack of energy."

What to do if there's vog?

PHIVOLCS advised those communities affected to avoid outdoor activities and shut windows and doors to block out vog.

Additionally, they are asked to wear protective gear such as an N95 face mask and drink plenty of water to reduce any throat irritation or constriction. If needed, seek help from a doctor.

The institution also warned the public of acid rain during rainfall and volcanic gas emissions, which may cause damage to crops and affect metal roofs of houses and buildings.