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Iceland's volcanic eruptions force local residents indoors

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Iceland's volcanic eruptions force local residents indoors


Poor air quality in the south of Iceland has prompted authorities to issue a warning advising local residents to remain indoors.

Höfn, the most populous town in the area, recorded exceptionally high levels of sulpur dioxide, or SO2.

Scientists have set the maximum level for short-term exposure at 5ppm (five parts of sulphur dioxide per million parts of air).

It can be detected by taste at concentrations of 0.35-1.05 ppm. In Höfn, readings showed levels of 1.8ppm.

Local residents were sent text messages urging them to close their windows and be alert for signs of SO2 poisoning.

Doctor Elín Freyja Hauksdottir explained the symptoms.

“Symptoms come mostly from the upper respiratory tract,” she said. “There is burning in the throat and nose and eyes and even a bad taste in your mouth. Then there are some whose symptoms go all the way down to the windpipe. People see this as a disaster situation, but they’re not making much of a fuss and are making suitable arrangements.”

Parents have been advised to drive their children to school and to cover their mouths and noses while they are outside.

The increased levels of air pollution are thought to be connected to the recent volcanic eruption in the Holuhraun lava field.

Bardarbunga volcano, which lies in the region, has seen increased seismic activity since August 29.

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