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Why An N95 Mask Is Recommended To Protect Yourself From Ashfall

If possible, opt for an N95 mask over a regular surgical mask.
PHOTO: istockphoto

On January 12, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) placed Taal Volcano on Alert Level 4 after its phreatic eruption, with ashfall affecting areas of Batangas, Cavite, Bulacan, Rizal, and Metro Manila. According to an update from CNN Philippines, lava has now reached the surface of Taal volcano, and this intensity can lead to a volcanic eruption.

A reminder on ashfall from PHIVOLCS reads, "Fine ashfall can cause irritation and breathing problems especially among the elderly and children and it is particularly dangerous to our health."

People are advised to stay indoors as much as possible, but if you are in an open area or if you must go outdoors, an N95 mask is highly recommended. Unlike a surgical mask or a cloth mask, an N95 mask is built to filter at least 95 percent of airborne particles and are designed to fit the face better than regular masks. Surgical masks, in comparison, offer little to no protection against smoke and particulates.

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If, however, you’re unable to get your hands on an N95 mask, you can use a wet cloth or towel.

In case of an emergency, here is a list of hotlines you can call:

  • National Emergency Hotline – 911
  • Philippine National Police – 117
  • PHIVOLCS  (02) 8426-1468 to 79
  • Philippine Red Cross – 143 or (02) 8790-2300
  • Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP)  (02) 8426-0246
  • National Disaster Risk Reduction And Management Council  – (02) 8911-5061 to 65 local 100