In a statement, the Department of Health (DOH) advises parents to avoid using their AC units in the meantime. “I also advise everyone to turn off the air conditioning and fans, close windows and doors to keep ash and gases from getting inside the house,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
The Philippine Society of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (PSAAI) also advises the use of an air purifier if you have one. An air purifier removes particles and other pollutants from indoor air by using fans to draw in dirty air, filtering it, and permanently removing allergens, cigarette smoke particles and odors, pet dander, dust, and more. It will then blow out fresh, healthy, and clean air back into the room.
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“Ash mixed with dangerous gases such as sulfur dioxide and other particulate matter may spread miles downwind of an eruption and can exacerbate any existing respiratory illness you may have such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, and other chronic illnesses,” said the PSAAI in their ashfall advisory. “For all patients with asthma and allergic rhinitis, it is important you continue taking your maintenance or controller medications. Make sure to have your emergency or rescue medications with you also. Keep copies of your asthma action plan.”
If for some reason, you feel the need to use the aircon inside your house, Concepcion Industrial Corporation (CIC), the Philippine company behind aircon brands such as Kelvinator, Condura, and Carrier, says that in cases of light ashfall, split type and window air conditioners may still be used. However, it is not advisable to use the cooling units during heavy ashfall as it may destroy the appliance.
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“The air your AC unit uses comes from inside your home, not from the outdoors, so it will not affect your air conditioning unit. However, during heavy ashfall, please refrain from using your AC units. Continued use during heavy ashfall will clog your AC unit’s outdoor condenser coil, which will result in the overheating of the compressor and the overall air conditioning system,” said CIC in a Facebook post.
Once the ashfall subsides, it is recommended that the air conditioning units are cleaned, whether the ashfall is light or heavy, according to Jojo Concepcion, CEO of Concepcion Industrial Corporation, in a report by ABS-CBN News.
“The aircon is basically a sealed system. What it does is recycle air indoors. You need to seal your windows and doors so you don’t let the ash come into the house. Then it should not bring in indoor air from outside,” added Concepcion.
To help you identify the amount of ashfall in your area, the CIC referred to this table from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), which states minor or light ashfall is at around 1/32 to 1/4 inch thick. Heavy ashfall is at 1 to 4 inches thick.