Xy Aldrae Murillo

As the country’s capital and surrounding places experience a grayish and foggy atmosphere, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) raised a warning about the existence of volcanic smog (or vog) at the Taal Volcano in Batangas, which imposed worries about potential health hazards and impending environmental impact, even though the Alert Level 1 status that was posted last September 22 is still maintained.

Photo Courtesy of MMDA/Philstar

Even though Phivolcs clarified that the fog filling the air in Manila right now is not from Taal Volcano and that the smog from Taal is drifting west-southwest (implying that it is not going to Metro Manila), class suspensions were still implemented  yesterday , September 22, in local government units (LGUs) in Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Pasay, and San Juan.

Metro Manila cities Caloocan, Marikina, Mandaluyong, Manila, Quezon City, and Valenzuela also suspended classes in the afternoon of September 22.

Selected areas in neighboring provinces Cavite, Batangas, Laguna, Quezon, and Rizal also announced suspensions, and constituents were advised to wear protective gear and limit outdoor activities.

Phivolcs reported that vog has been hurting the Taal region since early September, with an average of 3,402 tons per day degassed from Taal this month.

Vog, which consists of tiny droplets filled with sulfur dioxide and other volcanic gases, can be extremely dangerous to human health. It can irritate the respiratory system, throat, and eyes, when heavily exposed.

Furthermore, sulfur dioxide emissions from Taal's main crater reached 4,600 tons per day on September 21. Sulfur dioxide is a harmful and toxic gas that can be smelled on burnt matches, and is released naturally by volcanic activity.

Phivolcs also warned people against going to Taal Volcano Island and to avoid flying aircraft near the crater as dangers arise, even though Phivolcs maintained the Alert Level 1 status of the Taal Volcano on Friday, September 22.

Under Alert Level 1, steam or phreatic eruptions, volcanic tremors, thin ashfalls, and hazardous gas releases are possible. Metro Manila's air today is safer than yesterday but it is still advised by PAGASA to put on masks.