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Friday 21st October 2016

Icelandic ash 'no threat to health'

15th April 2010

The cloud of ash spreading across the UK from a recent volcanic eruption in Iceland is not a significant health risk, according to experts.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) is continuing to monitor the movement of the plume but does not expect it to touch the ground in the UK in the near future.

Air flights across Great Britain have been grounded because of the ash cloud but the agency says most of it remains trapped in the atmosphere at high altitude.

Scientists say at ground level, volcanic ash can cause serious health problems.

However, a HPA statement said: “Even if the plume does drop towards the ground the concentrations of particles at ground level are not likely to cause significant effects on health.

“Rainfall over the UK could cause a small amount of the ash to be deposited over the country but quantities are expected to be too small to cause health effects.”

Current high pressure conditions across the UK are keeping the ash cloud at high levels, say the Met Office.

Volcanologist Dr Dougal Jerram from the Department of Earth Sciences at Durham University said a major eruption in Iceland in 1783-84 pumped an estimated 120 million tones of sulphur dioxide into the air, causing thousands of deaths as it descended.

However, the current eruption is on a much smaller scale with the ash cloud expected to blow over within a few days.

The eruption occurred near the Eyjafjallajoekull glacier with the melted glacier water generating large volumes of steam.


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