No need to wear face masks in Metro Manila, says scientist
MANILA, Philippines — There’s really no need to buy — or worse, hoard — face masks for people living in Metro Manila, an environmental scientist said, even following the eruption of Taal Volcano on Sunday that has led to volcanic ash fall in provinces and cities north of Batangas.
In fact, Metro Manila’s air quality during the New Year’s revelry was even much worse, said Dr. Gerry Bagtasa of the University of the Philippines Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology on Monday.
Bagtasa explained that the weather, along with land cooling at nighttime, prevented volcanic ash to move closer to the surface of Metro Manila.
A radar from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration showed that ash was spewed up to 30 kilometers high from the main crater after Sunday’s eruption, and was blown by the wind 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.”
As such, Bagtasa said in the context of the eruption, it really isn’t that necessary to wear a face mask, especially the N95 that is more suitable for gravely affected communities.
But in the face of Metro Manila’s daily pollution, particularly pollutants from vehicles, masks to cover the nose and mouth can be helpful.
On Sunday, poor air quality peaked between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. in Quezon City, where pollutants known as particulate matter (PM) reached high levels, according to the air quality monitoring of AirToday.ph.
PM10 reached up to 60 micrograms per normal 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.
Should Taal violently erupt anew on Tuesday and Wednesday, wind forecasts show that the ash plume would be blown toward the east this time, and may affect the Calabarzon and Bicol regions, Bagtasa said.
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