Phivolcs alerts LGUs as Taal Volcano sulfur dioxide hits all-time high

State volcanologists called on local government units (LGUs) of areas surrounding Taal Lake in Batangas to conduct health checks among residents, after Taal Volcano emitted a record-high amount of sulfur dioxide (SO2).

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said on Tuesday, June 29, that SO2 emission averaged at 14,326 tons per day on Monday, June 28, "the highest ever recorded in Taal."

Phivolcs explained that the "continuous and unprecedented" high levels of SO2, along with "water vapor emitted in plumes, weak air movement, and solar radiation," are producing the volcanic smog or vog observed over Taal.

Exposure to vog can irritate the eyes, throat, and respiratory tract. People with health conditions, the elderly, pregnant women, and children may be most vulnerable to its effects.

Phivolcs said it has already received reports of the vog having "adverse effects" on some residents of Tanauan City and the municipality of Talisay facing Taal Volcano Island, and on some of Taal Lake's aquaculture workers.

"We recommend that health checks be conducted by local government officials on communities affected by vog to assess the severity of SO2 impacts on their constituents and to consider temporary evacuation of severely exposed residents to safer areas," the agency said.

"Local government units are also advised to regularly check the weather and wind forecasts of PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration) in order to assess potential exposure of their constituents so long as SO2 emission remains elevated."

Phivolcs also advised LGUs to "monitor activities of aquaculture workers to ensure that no one ventures too closely to Taal Volcano Island and gets exposed to lethal concentrations of volcanic SO2."

Here are Phivolcs' tips for protection from vog:

  • Avoid outdoor activities, stay indoors, and shut doors and windows.
  • Cover nose, ideally with an N95 face mask.
  • Drink plenty of water to reduce any throat irritation or constriction.
  • If belonging to any of the sensitive groups mentioned, seek help from a doctor or the barangay health unit if needed.

Earlier on Tuesday, Phivolcs said the haze observed in Metro Manila was due to pollution caused by "human activities," not vog from Taal Volcano.

Taal Volcano has been under Alert Level 2 since March 9, which means it is showing increased unrest. The volcano last erupted in January 2020. – Rappler.com

Acor Arceo

Acor Arceo is the head of copy and editorial standards at Rappler. Trained in both online and TV newsrooms, Acor supervises Rappler’s coverage of disasters, handles the business desk, and ensures consistency in editorial standards across all sections.

image