Rizal residents worry for their health as vog remains

Vog still visible at the Binangonan Municipal Market on Sept. 23. (Photo by Kimberly Binalingbing/Bulatlat)

By KIMBERLY BINALINGBING
Bulatlat.com

BINANGONAN, Rizal, September 23 – Residents in nearby towns where Taal Volcano sits continue to suffer from the emission of volcanic smog or vog.

“I didn’t notice the vog when I was on my way to the market because I always wear a mask. However, as I arrived at my stall and removed the mask, that’s when I started to feel its effects,” Mary Ann Niño, 57, a cloth retailer in Binangonan Municipal Market told Bulatlat.

Mary Ann Niño. (Photo by Kimberly Binalingbing/Bulatlat)

Binangonan, Rizal is nearly 200 kilometers away from Taal, Batangas, but remains under Alert Level 1 due to the vog.

On September 22, the municipal government of Binangonan issued a warning to its residents regarding the effects of the volcano’s emissions and provided safety guidelines.

On the same day, classes in Rizal were also canceled due to the vog.

According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), the volcano emitted 2,730 metric tons of vog from September 22 to 23 at 5 a.m. This is 40 percent lower compared to the emissions observed on Thursday, September 21.

Rowena Manuel. (Photo by Kimberly Binalingbing/Bulatlat)

The vog carries acidic gasses like sulfur dioxide (SO2), which can cause eye, throat, and skin irritation, breathing difficulties, chest tightness, headaches, sore throats, nausea, and fatigue. It can also worsen pre-existing health conditions such as asthma, lung problems, and heart disease.

The Department of Health’s Center for Health Development (DOH CHD) in Calabarzon recommends rinsing the eyes and affected skin exposed to SO2 and drinking plenty of water to relieve eye irritation.

Residents were also encouraged to move to an area with fresh outdoor air or to seek medical assistance if high concentrations of chemicals are inhaled.

Lloyd Vallesteros (Photo by Kimberly Binalingbing/Bulatlat)

To ensure public safety, residents in most parts of Metro Manila and CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) affected by the vog are advised to stay indoors, limit outdoor activities, and use N95 face masks when necessary.

For Niño, the impact of the vog is very much felt. She shares to Bulatlat that she has been feeling dizzy in recent days and had a sore throat while working at her market stall.

Her fellow cloth retailer, Rowena Manuel, 45, said she developed skin irritation on her face last Sept. 22.

“Although the vog now is less noticeable because of the rain, I can still sense it,” Rowena told Bulatlat.

Also among those who expressed worries include 40-year-old tricycle driver Lloyd Vallesteros, who has been experiencing nasal irritation since the vog.

As a precaution, Vallesteros said, “I wore a face mask before heading out to drive my tricycle, and I made sure my family does the same.”

DOH CHD CALABARZON issued a “code white alert” from September 21 to 24, in response to ongoing sulfur dioxide emissions from the Taal Volcano.

This alert signifies the preparedness of various medical professionals, including surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and specialists, to respond to potential emergency situations caused by the vog. (JJE, RTS) (https://www.bulatlat.org)

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