No significant health risk from ash cloud – health officials

As heavy rain showers washed down some of the dust from the Icelandic volcano eruption onto Shetland today, health officials said it did not “represent a significant hazard to health”.

In a statement, Health Protection Scotland said: “Predictions from the Met Office suggest that even if the plume does drop towards the ground, the concentrations of particles in air at ground level are unlikely to be sufficient to be a cause for concern. Rainfall could cause some ash to be deposited over the country and may be found on outdoor surfaces, cars etc. As deposited material it does not represent a significant hazard to health.

“Based on the experience from 2010, following the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, the probability of significant health effects in Scotland associated with exposure to any volcanic dust in the air is thought to be low. Health monitoring in 2010 based on symptom reporting in Scotland and the rest of the UK did not identify any evidence of adverse health effects directly associated with that volcanic eruption event.

“There is very little information on the composition of the ash currently in the atmosphere as yet. It will take some time to gather samples and analyse the materials to determine their mineral content and size. Scotland has monitoring systems in place for measuring particulate matter in air, and the impact on air quality, and this will provide a guide as to how much of the dust is likely to be encountered at ground level and any risk of exposure by the public.

“We will continue to monitor the situation closely and liaise with colleagues in other government agencies in Scotland and the UK.”


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