The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is closely monitoring the activity of Mayon Volcano and will advise the public on its potential effects on the environment and public health.

DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu gave this assurance following his recent visit to Albay province to check on the air quality conditions of affected areas in the towns of Camalig and Guinobatan, and cities of Tabaco and Ligao, as well as the vicinities of the 6-kilometer danger zone and the extended 7-km danger zone.

“The DENR, in close coordination with the Department of Health, will continue to monitor the air and water quality on affected areas and river systems to minimize environmental and health impacts of the volcanic eruption,” Cimatu said.

He said the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in Region 5 will also coordinate with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD), and the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office regarding the announcement of advisories and evacuation plan.

“We need to observe harmonized protocols among concerned agencies to ensure zero casualty,” said Cimatu, a former Armed Forces chief and special envoy for overseas Filipino workers in distress.

Director Eva Ocfemia of the EMB-Region 5 reported that of the affected areas, only Guinobatan showed increasing results of total suspended particulates (TSP) concentration.

Ocfemia, however, said the sulfur dioxide concentrations in Camalig and Guinobatan still conformed to the national ambient air quality guideline value of 0.034 parts per million.

The environment chief, meanwhile, warned that volcanic gases, particularly sulfur dioxide, have significant environmental impacts and hazardous effects on human health.

Volcanic gases, particularly sulfur dioxide, have significant environmental impacts and hazardous effects on human health.

He said that when sulfur dioxide combines with water and air, it forms sulfuric acid, which is the main component of acid rain.

“We all know that acid rain can cause deforestation, acidify waterways to the detriment of aquatic life, and corrode building materials and paints,” Cimatu pointed out.

In terms of health, the DENR Secretary said sulfur dioxide could affect the respiratory system, particularly lung function, and can irritate the eyes.

Sulfur dioxide irritates the respiratory tract and increases the risk of pulmonary tract infections. It causes coughing, mucus secretion and aggravates conditions such as asthma and chronic bronchitis.


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