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Sulfur dioxide from Taal Volcano reaches NCR, nearby provinces

The sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas emitted by Taal Volcano has reached the National Capital Region and nearby provinces, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) said on Wednesday.

"Sa ating mga datos na kalalabas lang at nakita po namin kagabi ay nakita natin na ang sulfur dioxide gas ay na-disperse," PHIVOLCS Officer-in-Charge and Science and Technology Undersecretary Renato Solidum Jr. said in an interview on Unang Balita.

(Based on our data just released, and we observed this last night, we saw that the sulfur dioxide gas was dispersed.)

"Maliban doon sa vog sa Taal area ay na-disperse po sa iba't ibang dako kasama ang ilang bahagi ng Luzon kasama ang NCR, mga karatig na probinsiya," he added.

(Aside from the vog over Taal area, the [sulfur dioxide] was dispersed to other parts of Luzon including NCR and nearby provinces.)



Solidum however said that the smog seen over Metro Manila was pollution worsened by temperature inversion.

"Ang pollution na nakikita natin sa Kamaynilaan ay talagang napalala dahil sa temperature inversion," the PHIVOLCS chief said.

(The pollution in Metro Manila was worsened by temperature inversion.)

"Ang temperature ng hangin mula sa ground o ibabaw paakyat ay bumababa. Nagsimula ng June 26 ayon sa PAGASA, nagkaroon ng isang layer ng mainit na hangin o warm air na imbes na umangat ang mga pollutants at pumunta sa itaas ay dahil malamig ito, mas malamig ito kaysa doon sa mainit na hangin, ay ito ay hindi napapaangat. Kaya lalong dumami din ang pollutants dito sa Metro Manila na nagsimula noong June 26, Sabado," he said.

(From June 26, according to PAGASA, a layer of warm air was observed. This traps pollutants in the air.)

However, the pollution was worsened too by the sulfur dioxide from Taal Volcano, the PHIVOLCS official said.

"Pero dahil nagkaroon ng mas mataas na emission sa Taal Volcano noong Lunes ng umaga, [mahigit] 14,000 tonnes per day, at ayon nga sa bagong satellite data ay napadpad sa hangin papunta dito, kaya ang usok na nakita natin at nakikita pa rin hanggang ngayon, kahit umaga, ay talagang maraming pollutants ang nagho-hover dito sa Metro Manila dahil mas malamig ang hangin ngayon," Solidum said.

(But due to the increased emission of sulfur dioxide by Taal Volcano on Monday morning, more than 14,000 tonnes per day, and new satellite data showed the sulfur dioxide was dispersed toward Metro Manila, we see the smog even in the morning. There are many pollutants in the air now.)

"Pero dahil nga sa pagpadpad ng sulfur dioxide gas over Metro Manila ay mas naging hazy ang pananaw ng ating mga kababayan sa paligid ng Metro Manila," he said.

(Residents noted it is more hazy now around Metro Manila.)

"'Yung smog talaga, sa emission 'yan, pollutants, kasi hindi siya makaangat. Kung ito ang layer ng hangin at nabuga ng hangin papunta dito [ang sulfur dioxide]...," Solidum said.

(The smog is due to emission, pollutants because these could not go up [in the atmosphere].)

On Tuesday, PAGASA said the haze observed over Metro Manila was caused by thermal inversion.

PAGASA weather specialist Joey Figuracion said haze happens when air gets trapped with moisture, smoke, and other particles. One of the reasons for the thermal inversion was the wide high pressure area, he said. The haze would last for two days, added Figuracion.

Almost 20 km above sea level

In a press release issued  Wednesday morning, PHIVOLCS said the SO2 plumes from Taal Volcano reached almost 20 km above sea level and mostly spread over to Batangas, NCR and other provinces.

“Yesterday afternoon, web portals for NASA’s Ozone Mapping Instrument (OMI) on the Aura platform and the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) on the Suomi National Polar-Orbiting Partnership Satellite released information on the SO2 plumes detected from Taal Volcano on 28 and 29 June 2021,” PHIVOLCS said.

“The plumes extend from the planetary boundary layer or PBL, representing near-ground surface levels, to the upper troposphere at almost 20 kilometers above sea level and mostly spread over the Batangas, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan and Zambales Provinces and the National Capital Region,” it added.

“Satellite detection on 29 June 2021, showed an even larger coverage of Luzon Island,” PHIVOLCS said.



Alert Level 2

Solidum said Alert Level 2 remains over Taal Volcano on Wednesday.

"Ang Bulkang Taal ay patuloy na nagbubuga ng sulfur dioxide gas emission," Solidum said.

(Taal Volcano continues to have sulfur dioxide emission.)

The sulfur dioxide flux was measured at 8,982 tonnes per day on June 29. This was lower than the 14,326 tonnes/day measured on June 28.

Six volcanic earthquakes and low-level background tremor were also observed in the past 24 hours.

"Ang pamamaga [ng bulkan] ay dahan-dahan pero patuloy," Solidum added.

(The surface of the volcano is still changing slowly.)

Under Alert Level 2, steam-driven or gas explosion or gas accumulation may occur, he added.

PHIVOLCS reiterated that Taal Volcano Island should remain off limits.

"May masamang epekto ng sulfur dioxide gas lalong-lalo na doon malapit sa Pulo o isla," Solidum said.

(Sulfur dioxide may cause ill effects especially on those living near Taal Volcano Island.)

Pilots are also advised not to fly near the crater of Taal Volcano.

Solidum said some residents living near Taal Volcano may experience throat irritation or breathing problems due to sulfur dioxide.

He advised affected residents to stay indoors, drink lots of water and wear face masks.

The local government units should also do health checks among residents and prepare temporary evacuation sites should the affected residents do not have the facility, such as if they live in nipa houses, to protect themselves against inhaling sulfur dioxide, Solidum added. —KG, GMA News