GUAM RENEWS VOLCANIC ASH ALERT

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HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, May 28) - The National
Weather Service expects the volcanic ash haze over the island to continue to
dissipate, but the Guam Environmental Protection Agency has issued an ash
advisory again for Guam.

On May 10, a volcano erupted on Anatahan, an uninhabited island
80 miles north of Saipan. The volcano spewed ash containing noxious sulfur
dioxide gas and other pollutants, and winds from Typhoon Chan-hom last week blew
the haze over Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Last week, officials from the environmental agency and the
weather service issued ash advisories for Guam, Rota, Tinian and Saipan. The
advisories were lifted during the weekend, but officials yesterday reissued the
advisory for Guam for another 48 hours because of a shift in weather patterns
that caused the haze to loom over the island.

During an ash advisory, people with respiratory problems, asthma
or heart disease, as well as children and the elderly, should stay indoors, said
Peter Cruz, Guam EPA's air pollution control program director.

NWS meteorologist Mike Ziobro yesterday said the haze
"really thinned out today but it may still affect a few people."

"The plume (from Anatahan) is not directly coming towards
Guam. The volcano actually blew out the ash toward the Philippines in the West
Pacific," Ziobro explained.

"In a normal trade wind, you would have the stuff going
(west), but because of the wind change with the typhoon, we are getting some
winds from Asia that may be mixing with the ash and bringing very small amounts
this way."

Gases react with oxygen and atmospheric moisture to produce
volcanic smog, also known as vog, and acid rain.

Cruz said people with respiratory problems can be affected
because their lungs already are stressed. Some problems that people could
experience include headaches, breathing difficulties, increased susceptibility
to respiratory ailments, watery eyes, sore throat, flu-like symptoms and a
general lack of energy.

Carmela Virata Sanchez, Agana Heights senior center manager,
said the 55 seniors in her program have not been able to do their daily walking
exercises since the advisory was issued.

"We are always aware and cautious of these kinds of health
concerns for our clients," said Sanchez, 55.

"So we won't have outdoor activities until we are told it
is safe. What we are doing instead is having our clients take some dance classes
for their exercises -- they are doing the cha-cha, line dancing and the Electric
Slide, so they are really enjoying it."

Cruz said the volcano continues to spew ash but said the
advisory should be lifted Thursday if weather forecasts hold true.

Ziobro said he expects the monsoon trough north of the island to
move away soon, which should change the direction of the trade winds.

However, because the monsoon season has begun, another monsoon
wind shift could come along and alter wind patterns that could cause more ash to
blow toward Guam, he noted.

May 28, 2003

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com 

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