Taal Volcano emits record-high amount of sulfur dioxide (SO2) – Smog has reached Metro Manilla, Philippines – Is the volcano about to erupt?


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).

sulfur dioxide taal volcano june 2021
Taal volcano emits unprecedented amount of Sulfur dioxide in the Philippines. Picture via Express

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.

The sulfur dioxide (SO2) plumes from Taal Volcano have reached Metro Manila and neighboring provinces, state volcanologists reported on Wednesday.

The Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (DOST-Phivolcs) said the SO2 plumes have been blown by air to spread over the Metro Manila, and neighboring provinces of Batangas, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan and Zambales.

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. They were trying to cover it up… Like many other officials!

Here are the main adverse effects sulfur dioxide can have on your health:

Taal Volcano has been under Alert Level 2 since March 9, which means it is showing increased unrest and thus indicating that “the threat of sudden steam or gas-driven explosions and lethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas can occur.” [Rappler, Inquirer]

The volcano last erupted in January 2020. Do you think it is going to blow out soon again?

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1 Comment

  1. Duterte will kick the volcano’s butt. He loves his people and country.

    I don’t like his vax policy, but overall he cares about the people, and will probably be ready with emergency services.

    Be safe.

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