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DOH: Nearly 700 Batangas residents affected by Taal Volcano vog

A total of 691 individuals based in the province of Batangas have been affected by the volcanic fog or vog caused by Taal Volcano’s activity, the Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday.

DOH’s data as of Monday, September 25, showed that the affected people came from the municipalities of Agoncillo, Alitagtag, Balete, Balayan, Calaca, Calatagan, Lemery, Lian, Lipa, Nasugbu, San Jose, San Pascual, Sta. Teresita, Tanauan, Taysan, Tuy, and Batangas City.

Most of the cases were recorded in Balete at 208. It was followed by San Pascual with 135 cases, and Agoncillo with 76 cases.

There were also three people who were hospitalized due to the vog—two came from Lian and one from Tuy.

“Rest assured that the Department of Health (DOH), along with its regional counterparts – the Centers for Health Development CALABARZON and MIMAROPA – has already provided both logistical and medical assistance on the affected areas,” DOH said in a message to reporters.

Zero visibility conditions were earlier reported in Tuy, Balayan, Lian, and Nasugbu in Batangas due to the vog.

DOH has advised the public not to go outside as much as possible to avoid possible effects of prolonged sulfur dioxide exposure.

If one has to leave their house, the use of N95 face masks would be the next best step to limit the inhalation of sulfur dioxide and any other volcanic debris.

As of Saturday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) said Taal Volcano's vog has cleared but remains a recurring threat.

PHIVOLCS director Teresito Bacolcol explained at a Kapihan forum on Tuesday that Taal Volcano’s vog emissions are totally different from the smog surrounding Metro Manila.

He said that the NCR smog and the Taal vogs are a result of air pollutants trapped due to a scientific phenomenon called “thermal inversion.”

“Di lang makaangat would be the steaming with sulfur dioxide. It formed vog in Taal Volcano but in Metro Manila it formed smog because of thermal inversion,” said Bacolcol.

He also added that Taal’s sulfuric emissions of 4,569 per day of sulfuric dioxide is a low reading compared to January 2022’s readings of almost 10,000 tonnes per day.

Thermal inversion occurs when the earth’s stratosphere has a layer of warm air sandwiched between cool air as opposed to the normal warm to cold layers.

According to PAGASA, it often occurs during the colder months of the year.

Meanwhile, Bacolcol said that Metro Manila’s smog is just the regular air pollution activity that coincided with Taal Volcano’s activities.

“A few years back, I remember meron nang ganitong phenomenon. It’s just na na-highlight ngayon because people thought the haze they saw last week was from Taal Volcano. Everybody panicked, and LGUs natin suspended classes. Na-emphasize lang this time,” he said.

“Yung vog po, dun lang sa Batangas area. For as long as Taal Volcano is spewing sulfur dioxide, the threat of vog is always there. It will be a recurring threat,” he added.

He also predicted that Sulfuric Dioxide emissions in Taal would take up to five years to dissipate, following a similar pattern with Japan’s Miyake-jima Volcano.—AOL, GMA Integrated News