Is Volcanic Ash Bad For Health?

The recent volcanic eruption in Iceland that has brought the aviation industry in Britain and parts of Europe to a grinding halt is raising questions about health: is volcanic ash and dust, glass and rock a health risk to people to live in or travel to these locations?

To answer this question, these particles are not a health risk unless they fall to the ground. However, it is recommended that those with respiratory problems should take precautions. Inhalers should be carried when going out and if throats and eyes feel itchy, it is best to stay indoors.

It is also better to stay at home if one sees a haze of dust in the air or if there is a strong acidic or sulfurous smell in the air.

At such times or if symptoms are perceived, people should limit their outdoor activities. Also those who wear contact lenses may experience discomfort.

The WHO announced that there are no serious health problems related to the volcanic matter being spewed in the air. Indications of such volcanic ash and other substances falling to the ground could be extra dust on the car or other outdoor objects, the smell of sulfur etc.

Source: NY Times