Volcanic ash cloud is potential health risk

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Volcanic ash cloud is potential health risk

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The volcano causing all the chaos in the air is also having a devastating effect on the people living nearby.

About 700 local residents have been evacuated from their isolated homes in the vicinity of the volcano which is under the Eyafjallajoekull glacier.

It is feared the volcanic ash – at ground level – could pose health problems for both humans and livestock.

Professor of Geophysics at the University of Iceland Paul Einarsson said: “What is surprising about this eruption is how much trouble it is causing, because this is a fairy small eruption. The main effects are due to the fact that the eruption is beneath a glacier. The glacier has been melted and this is causing flooding, and the flood waves are causing a lot of problems, they are causing a lot of damage to the roads, fields and so on.

“The ash contains a lot of fluorine, and fluorine is known to have caused some trouble with animals and human beings as well. This is being watched very closely. In previous eruptions of this volcano there have been problems with grazing animals.

“There is no way to predict how long the eruption will last. It has now lasted more than two days and it has not diminished. So it is not ending very soon. It could be days, or even weeks or months.”

The World Health Organisation is warning that ash which has already reached the ground is potentially dangerous and if inhaled could cause respiratory problems. A spokesman said the exact health risks from the ash cloud are not yet known.

There are fears of an even bigger eruption if the current volcanic activity sets off the nearby Katla volcano.