On January 12, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) placed Taal Volcano, which is about 50 kilometers away from Manila, on Alert Level 4 because of its phreatic eruption. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) defines phreatic eruption as "steam-driven explosions that occur when water beneath the ground or on the surface is heated by magma, lava, hot rocks, or new volcanic deposits." This phenomenon covered Southern Luzon (Batangas, Cavite, Laguna), Bulacan, Rizal, and Metro Manila in ashfall.
According to USGS, ash contains volcanic glass. rocks, and minerals, so it can be irritating and toxic to our bodies. The World Health Organization of the Philippines warns the public to stay indoors due to the negative effects of ashfall in the body. In a Twitter post, WHO listed down its health impact: Physical trauma and injury, lung problems, eye irritation, gastrointestinal problems, and skin burns + irritation.
So what are we supposed to when we're exposed to ashfall?
1. Wear a protective face mask.
Health professionals recommend wearing an N95 mask to filter at least 95 percent of airborne particles from being inhaled. But, if this is not available, put on a surgical or cloth mask and place a clean damp towel or handkerchief underneath.
2. Soothe irritated eyes with lubricant eye drops.
Volcanic ash has acidic and silica content that it can irritate the eyes, so it is encouraged to wear protective eye gear such as goggles. In case you become exposed to volcanic ash, you can get rid of the tiny particles with a lubricant eye drop. Do not rub the eyes as this may cause further irritation.
3. Wash away volcanic ash with water.
Rinse your body with cold water and refrain from rubbing with a damp towel as this will just trigger irritation (again, volcanic ash is sharp in nature). Dermatologist Dr. Erin Tababa of @TheNerdyDerma advises applying a thin, bland moisturizer (one that is made without actives like retinol, AHAs, BHAs) to the affected areas after washing. If you don't know which jar to get, check out our ultimate guide to sensitive skin-friendly moisturizers here.
If you're still experiencing health problems, please seek medical attention.
* This story originally appeared on Cosmo.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Preview.ph editors.