Advocacy Disaster Preparedness Environment Health and Safety

Beware of Health Hazards of Volcanic Ash

14 January 2020, Quezon City.  As the restive Taal Volcano continues to spew ash over a vast area, the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental health group, reminded the public to avoid exposure to volcanic ash.

Echoing the health advisory issued by the Department of Health (DOH), the group prodded the public, especially those who are already suffering from respiratory ailments, to prevent or reduce 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 also result from roof collapse due to ash accumulation or from vehicular accidents due to poor visibility and slippery roads, according to the DOH.

To cope with the ashfall 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 the eyes from irritation.
  • Keep pets in the 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 all 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 mm diameter).”

“Ashfall 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.