Did you notice the haze in your area for the past few days?
On Wednesday morning, June 30, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said volcanic smog or vog from Taal Volcano in Batangas reached Calabarzon, Metro Manila, and other parts of Luzon.
Phivolcs reported on Tuesday that the haze in Metro Manila was from pollution caused by “human activities.” However, in a statement at 6:30 am on Wednesday, the agency said new satellite data showed the vog from Taal Volcano reached various areas in Luzon.
In an earlier advisory, Phivolcs explained that the vog is a result of the continued sulfur dioxide or SO2 emission from the main crater.
What are the health effects of inhaling SO2?
The agency said SO2 in vog is “acidic and can cause irritation of the eyes, throat, and respiratory tract in severities depending on the gas concentrations and durations of exposure.”
Medline Plus, a repository of medical information by the United States National Institutes of Health, says symptoms of vog exposure include breathing problems, coughing, flu-like symptoms, more mucus production, and sore throat. Breathing in vog irritates the lungs and mucous membranes, and may affect your immune system.
Exposure to SO2 may affect people differently – those with lung conditions such as asthma and bronchitis may be more sensitive to vog than others.
Here’s what you can do to protect yourself against vog, according to Phivolcs:
If you have no urgent need to go outdoors, stay inside as much as possible. Remember to also shut down windows and doors.
Staying hydrated will help loosen any congestion from vog exposure. Drinking warm liquids such as tea may also help with relieving symptoms.
Vulnerable groups which include people with health conditions, the elderly, pregnant women, and children should be particularly observed.