The Philippine Health Department warns volcanic ash is more potent than pollution from vehicles or firecrackers — as it contains various chemical compounds including carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide.
When inhaled, carbon dioxide can cause dizziness, headaches and can even make a person unconscious.
Acid from volcanic ash can also trigger eye, nose and throat irritations.
Volcanic ash can also trigger asthma, bronchitis and emphysema.
A pulmunologist says, air quality near Taal volcano is unsafe, and residents in areas with heavy ashfall should wear n-95 facemasks.
“The N-95 protects you even the small particles up to 3 microns — pag less than 5 microns yun nag pumapasok tlaga hangagang airsacs and this will cause and more hazardous to the lungs,” said Dr. Janeth Samson, chief pulmonologist at St. Luke’s Medical Center/Philippine college of chest physicians.
In Santa Ana, Manila, N-95 masks are already sold out in medical supplies stores.
But the demand for the face masks triggered a price spike.
Local officials are now inspecting stores after receiving complaints that N-95 masks were being sold for 200 pesos, or nearly $4, up from just 25 to 30 pesos.
The Philippine trade department warns it will not hesitate to file administrative and criminal charges against businesses and individuals who take advantage of the situation.
If there’s no available N-95 face mask, people can still use a regular surgical mask or a wet towel if they need to get out of the house.
The DOH is set to give out free N-95 face masks, water containers and eye drops to affected individuals.
It’s also closely coordinating with the DTI to ensure enough supply of facemasks in stores.