Haze has blanketed Metro Manila as state seismologists observed volcanic smog or vog over Taal, which got social media asking: is the smog over the city caused by the volcano?
When Taal erupted in January 2020, volcanic ash reached the capital region of 12 million people. The volcano is located 80 kilometers south of the capital and on Monday, it spewed 14,326 tons of sulfur and ejected steam plumes as high as 2.5 kilometers.
Both Phivolcs and PAGASA said there was not enough evidence to show that the Metro Manila haze was caused by volcanic smog.
"'Yung haze po na nararanasan natin sa Metro Manila, smog po 'yun. Hindi po siya connected sa Taal pero may posibilidad naman na umabot siya sa Metro Manila or especially doon sa bandang south, doon sa Muntinlupa pero sa ngayon po 'yung vog po natin ay sa Taal caldera lang po natin nararanasan," Phivolcs science research specialist Dave Rivera told reportr.
PAGASA forecaster Grace Castaneda told reportr that air pollutants in highly urbanized areas plus the rainy season could be the reason for the Metro Manila haze.
"Haze po siya which is 'yung dust particles po suspended in the air tapos maulan din po tayo, light rains po, tapos high humidity, 'yun po nagko-contribute kung bakit 'yung particles na 'yun nasu-surround sila ng liquid kaya 'pag tumingin tayo limited ang visibility."
"Hindi siya conclusive na siya (haze) nga po 'yung nararanasan sa Taal, meteorological event po siya," she said.
Phivolcs and PAGASA told the public to await further advisories from authorities.
How to protect yourself against smog, haze
Those living near Taal Volcano area are told to wear N95 masks or medical-grade face masks to protect themselves against the volcanic smog or vog.
The elderly, pregnant women, children, and those who have asthma or other health conditions are told to avoid outdoor activities, stay indoors and keep the windows and doors closed to block out the vog.
Aside from wearing N95 masks, residents should drink plenty of water to reduce throat irritation.
The Taal Volcano remains under Alert Level 2, indicating increased unrest. It means sudden explosion, volcanic earthquakes, minor ashfall threaten nearby areas.
Those affected by the haze are suggested to take these steps, according to a study published in the National Library of Medicine:
- drink vitamin A to raise the body's immune functions and improve resistance to infections
- drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
- close the windows and doors to keep air clean indoors
- avoid smoking indoors which could cause air pollution
- stay at home
- wear proper masks outdoors, such as the N95 mask