Volcanic Gases Cause Haze and Breathing Issues Skip to content
Reykjanes Eruption
Photo: Golli. The glare from the Reykjanes eruption is visible from the city.

Volcanic Gases Cause Haze and Breathing Issues

Gases from the ongoing eruption on Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula may lead to fewer sunny days this summer, Vísir reports. Eruption gases have been creating a haze in the capital area in recent days and causing discomfort for people with asthma or other lung conditions. Air quality specialist Þorsteinn Jóhannsson says locals should get into the habit of monitoring air quality in their surroundings.

Though weather has been sunny in the capital area recently, lately the sunshine has been obscured by a mist known as volcanic haze. “Volcanic haze is not the usual ash plume that comes directly from the eruption, which is primarily sulphur dioxide. It can be an old or developed plume that has been floating around for 3-4 days just off the coast and then comes onto land again and then it’s been turned into sulphur particulate matter. That refracts light so it is seen as a haze,” Þorsteinn explains.

According to Þorsteinn, volcanic haze is more common on warm, sunny days and can also boost the formation of regular fog. Though the eruption is on Iceland’s southwest tip, the haze can travel anywhere in the country, such as Akureyri, North Iceland, where it was observed some weeks ago.

Volcanologists have stated the Reykjanes eruption could last years or even decades. “If this eruption persists, we need to put ourselves in eruption air quality gear and keep a close eye on it,” Þorsteinn says. “One can’t recommend running a long race in heavy pollution, it’s usually possible to go between houses, but sensitive people should avoid being outdoors if there is a lot of volcanic haze.”

Air quality in Iceland can be monitored on loftgaedi.is.

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