Air Polluted by Ash and Dust in South Iceland Skip to content

Air Polluted by Ash and Dust in South Iceland

A considerable amount of volcanic ash both from the eruption in Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 and Grímsvötn in 2011, combined with dust as a result of soil erosion, has been carried with the wind across central south Iceland over the past few days.


The ash fall during the eruption in Eyjafjallajökull in April 2010. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

In some places the haze is so dense that it blocks the view of the mountains; at Rangárvellir inhabitants hadn’t seen the mountains for three days yesterday, Morgunbladid reports.

“It has been dry for a long time,” said director of the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland Sveinn Runólfsson. “This constant wind from the north and northeast tears up soil where it isn’t [bound by vegetation].”

The situation is worst in areas that were subjected to the worst ash fall during the recent volcanic eruptions, for example below Mt. Eyjafjöll and in Fljótshlíd.

“It reminds us that we have yet to pay our debt to the land,” Runólfsson commented, referring to the importance of soil conservation.

According to Fréttabladid, the air pollution level in Reykjavík well exceeded the accepted health limit yesterday.

Pollution measured 260 micrograms per cubic meter at noon; with levels in excess of 100 micrograms, those with allergies or serious cardiac or lung diseases are advised to stay indoors; levels in excess of 150 micrograms may also cause discomfort among those without respiratory illnesses. Fifty micrograms is the acceptable daily health limit.

“The wind is supposed to calm [today] so hopefully the ash drift will decrease. In the middle of the week rainfall is likely, so that should help return air quality levels to normal,” Meteorologist Haraldur Eiríksson at the Icelandic Meteorological Office told Morgunbladid.


Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get news from Iceland, photos, and in-depth stories delivered to your inbox every week!

* indicates required

Subscribe to Iceland Review

In-depth stories and high-quality photography showcasing life in Iceland!

Share article