Impact of Volcanic Ash on People’s Health Studied Skip to content

Impact of Volcanic Ash on People’s Health Studied

The lung disease division of the Landspítali national hospital, healthcare workers in south Iceland and Chief Epidemiologist at the Directorate of Health, Haraldur Briem, are now studying the impact of ash on the respiratory system and general health of people living close to the eruption site below the Eyjafjöll mountain range.

Ash keeps blowing across the Eyjafjöll countryside. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

The goal is to evaluate the immediate impact of the ash, the effectiveness of the measures undertaken and whether other measures were needed, Morgunbladid reports.

The long-term impact of the ash on the health of the people in the area will also be evaluated, for example by examining people’s respiratory tracts and taking blood samples. One hundred people will be examined.

Briem said surprisingly little is known about the long-term effects of volcanic ash on people’s health, although soreness in the respiratory tract and lungs, caused by sulphur compounds, are known short-term effects.

The ash from the eruption in Eyjafjallajökull was very fine and little is known about such fine dust being carried into the lungs. The impact of air pollution in cities has been studied thoroughly but general air pollution is considerably different from volcanic ash.

Click here to read more about the volcanic ash from Eyjafjallajökull.

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