By Ellalyn de Vera-Ruiz

Air quality in Metro Manila is within “good” level and is far from “hazardous” levels amid reports of ash fall over the metropolis last Sunday, according to an expert from the University of the Philippines (UP).

13012020 ASH FALL IN METRO MANILA KASIBAN 1 - Metro Manila air quality still ‘good’ – expert

The towering skyline of Metro Manila is covered in some haze after being engulfed with volcanic ash. The whole Metro was affected by the phreatic eruption of the Taal volcano. (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN)

Dr. Gerry Bagtasa of the UP Institute of Environmental Studies and Meteorology (IESM) said the particulate matter – an indicator for air pollution – over Metro Manila reached a “moderate” level at 60 micrograms per cubic meter from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. last Sunday.

This is better than the pollution level during the New Year revelry when particulate matter usually reaches 150 to 300 micrograms per cubic meter, which is considered a “hazardous” level, Bagtasa pointed out.

Air quality over Metro Manila even improved to 10 micrograms per cubic meter on Monday, which means the quality of air is within a “good” level.

As the public flock to pharmacies in search for face masks, Bagtasa said it is really not necessary to wear one as pollution from the ash fall over Metro Manila is not alarming

However, he noted that face masks are always useful to those who have pre-existing respiratory illnesses, including the children and elderly.

It is always good to have face masks considering the daily pollution in Metro Manila, he added.

Improving air quality

Bagtasa said the wind direction on Monday gradually shifted east toward eastern Luzon. “Based on our observation between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m., the ash plume from Taal Volcano was already over east of Luzon or over the sea.

If Taal Volcano continues to spew ash until Wednesday (Jan. 15), the ash plume will likely travel toward the east over the Pacific, affecting Bicol Region and southern part of Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon).

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