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Environmental group warns of dangers of exposure to volcanic ash

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By Chito Chavez 

As Taal Volcano continues to spew ash over a large area including Metro Manila, environmental health group EcoWaste Coalition asked the affected public to stay indoors or take the necessary precautions if going outdoors is unavoidable.

The towering skyline of Metro Manila is barely seen as it is covered in a thick haze after being engulfed w/ volcanic ash as viewed from a deck in Antipolo city. The whole Metro was affected by the phreatic eruption of the Taal volcano. (PHOTO/ ALVIN KASIBAN)

The towering skyline of Metro Manila is barely seen as it is covered in a thick haze after being engulfed w/ volcanic ash as viewed from a deck in Antipolo City. The whole metropolis was affected by the phreatic eruption of the Taal volcano. (PHOTO/ ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

The Quezon City-based group said exposure to volcanic ash poses danger to human and animal health.

Animal lovers earlier urged the public to keep their pets inside their houses to keep them from inhaling volcanic ash.

Echoing the health advisory issued by the Department of Health (DOH), the group prodded the public, especially those already suffering from respiratory ailments, to prevent or reduce their exposure to volcanic ash, which may cause a number of health problems including nose, throat, eye, and skin irritation, breathing discomfort, coughing, and bronchitis-like illness.

Injuries or death may result from roof collapse due to ash accumulation or from vehicular accidents due to poor visibility and slippery roads, DOH said.

To cope with the ash fall from Taal Volcano, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated the following advice from the DOH :

— Minimize exposure to ash.
— Stay indoors as much as possible.
— Keep doors and windows closed.
— Keep home from ash infiltration by using damp curtains, blankets, or clothing.
— Use dust masks.
— Wear goggles or glasses to protect eyes from irritation.
— Keep pets in closed shelter.
— Clean your roof of ash.
— Observe traffic notifications and road safety measures.

According to the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network (IVHHN), an umbrella organization for research and information on the health hazards and impacts of volcanic eruptions, “volcanic ash is composed of fine particles of fragmented volcanic rock (less than 2 millimeters in diameter).”

“Ash fall is the most widespread and frequent volcanic hazard… that can potentially affect communities and farmlands across hundreds, or even thousands, of square kilometers,” said the US Geological Society, a partner of the IVHHN.

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