Air quality worse during New Year, no need to wear face masks for ashfall in Metro Manila

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An environmental scientist said on Monday that residents of Metro Manila do not need to wear face masks now following the ashfall brought by Taal Volcano’s eruption.

face masks for ashfall
Air quality worse during New Year, no need to wear face masks for ashfall in Metro Manila. (Image from BusinessWorld)

Dr. Gerry Bagtasa of the University of the Philippines Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology said in fact that the city’s air quality during New Year’s celebration is even much worse than what Taal’s ashfall had brought.

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Bagtasa said the combination of the current weather and land cooling during the night prevented the ash to move down to Metro Manila’s surface.

Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration’s radar showed Taal Volcano spewed ash up to 30 kilometers high. The wind blew it at 12.5 km in height.

“But most of the ash plume [blown toward Metro Manila] descended only up to 3 km,” he said. “The finer ash was not able to reach the ground surface … The ashfall observed in some areas [is] relatively huge, which [was] pulled down by gravity.”

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The scientist further explained that in the context of Taal’s eruption, people in Metro Manila don’t need to wear a face mask, specifically the N95 one, which is much needed in gravely affected communities.

Also read: DOH to send P1.9M worth of N95 masks, eye drops for Calabarzon

Metro Manila residents should wear face masks due to pollution, not Taal eruption ashfall

Bagtasa said in the face of Metro Manila’s daily pollution, particularly pollutants from vehicles, masks to cover the nose and mouth can be helpful.

AirToday.ph reported on Sunday poor air quality peaked between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. in Quezon City, where pollutants are known as particulate matter (PM), reached high levels.

PM10 reached up to 60 micrograms per standard cubic meter of air (ug/Ncm), while the smaller and deadlier PM2.5 peaked at 52 ug/Ncm.

Both pollutants reached more than a hundred ug/Ncm in the early morning of Jan. 1.

Bagtasa said ash plume would be blown toward Calabarzon and Bicol regions should Taal violently erupt anew on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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