THE HEALTH HAZARDS OF VOLCANIC ASH (part 4 Indirect health effects )


THE HEALTH HAZARDS OF VOLCANIC ASH

A guide for the public

This   document   has   been   prepared   by   the International  Volcanic  Health  Hazard  Network (IVHHN), Cities and Volcanoes Commission, GNS Science and the United States Geological Survey (USGS)  to  promote  the  safety  of  those  who experience volcanic ashfall. This guide explains the potential health effects of volcanic ash and gives details on how to protect yourself and your family in the event of a volcanic ash fall.

Indirect Effects of Ash Fall

As well as the short and long term health risks, indirect impacts of large ash falls must also be considered. These mainly arise from the secondary consequences of ash fall.

Effects on roads

The reduction in visibility from airborne ash alone may cause accidents. This danger is compounded by ash
covering roads. Not only are road markings covered up, but thin layers of either wet or dry ash are very
slippery, reducing traction. Thick deposits of ash may make roads impassable, cutting off communities from
basic supplies.

Effects on Power

Ash fall can lead to power cuts. These may have implications for health due to lack of heating
or other infrastructural requirements that depend on electricity. Wet ash is conductive, so it is essential
that safe operating procedures are stringently followed when cleaning power supply equipment.

Effects on water supplies

Ash fall can cause contamination of water or clogging and damage of water supply equipment. Small, open
water supplies such as domestic water tanks with roof drainage are especially vulnerable to volcanic ash fall,
and even small quantities of ash may cause problems for potability. While the risk of toxicity is low, the pH
may be reduced or chlorination inhibited. During and after ash falls, there is also likely to be extra water
demand for clean-up, resulting in water shortages.

Effects on sanitation

(waste water disposal etc).
The temporary disablement of municipal sanitation systems may lead to increased disease in affected areas.

Risk Of Roof Collapse

1) Roofs can collapse from the weight of ash, resulting in injury or death for those underneath.
2) There is a danger of roof collapse whilst clearing ash from roofs due to the increased load of a person on an already overloaded roof.
3) In several eruptions people have died after falling from their roofs while cleaning up ash.

Animal Health

If the ash is coated in hydrofluoric acid, the ash can be very toxic to grazing animals if they ingest ash-covered grass and soil.
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THE HEALTH HAZARDS OF VOLCANIC ASH (part 3 SKIN)


THE HEALTH HAZARDS OF VOLCANIC ASH

A guide for the public

This   document   has   been   prepared   by   the International  Volcanic  Health  Hazard  Network (IVHHN), Cities and Volcanoes Commission, GNS Science and the United States Geological Survey (USGS)  to  promote  the  safety  of  those  who experience volcanic ashfall. This guide explains the potential health effects of volcanic ash and gives details on how to protect yourself and your family in the event of a volcanic ash fall.

 

Skin Irritation

While not common, volcanic ash can cause skin irritation for some people, especially if the ash is acidic.

Symptoms include:

  • Irritation and reddening of the skin.
  • Secondary infections due to scratching.

Protective Clothing should be worn when you are outdoors.

  • Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Long Pants
  • Socks and Shoes
  • Gloves
  • Hat

Depending on the type of volcano Kilauea is a basaltic shield volcano, erupting a type of basalt known as tholeiite. This type of lava is the dominant extrusive during the shield building (the main stage) of hawaiian volcanism and is the dominant basalt type erupted on Earth.

Pele’s hair is a form of lava. It is named after Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes. It can be defined as volcanic glass fibers or thin strands of volcanic glass.[1] The strands are formed through the stretching of molten basaltic glass from lava, usually from lava fountains, lava cascades, and vigorous lava flows.

Pele’s hair is extremely light, so the wind often carries the fibers high into the air and to places several kilometers away from the vent. It is common to find fibers of Pele’s hair on high places like top of trees, radio antennas, and electric poles.

Pele’s hair does not only occur in Hawaii. It can be found near other volcanoes around the world, for example in Nicaragua (Masaya), Italy (Etna), Ethiopia (Erta’ Ale), and Iceland, where it is known as “nornahár” (“witches’ hair”).[2] It is usually found in gaps in the ground, mostly near vents, skylights, ocean entry, or in corners where Pele’s hair can accumulate.

It is not recommended to touch Pele’s hair, because it is very brittle and very sharp, and small broken pieces can enter the skin. Gloves should be worn while examining it.

For those of you who have sensitive skin you should avoid skin contact with volcanic ash as it will cause an allergic reaction or also called dermatitis , if the volcanic ash already on your skin you should wash your skin with soap and clean water .

Although skin irritation are not always experienced by all people , but if the volcanic ash was mixed with harmful substances you should be careful , because it could be such a dangerous substance that can irritate your skin .

Some of the symptoms that occur to the skin due to volcanic ash

  • The occurrence of red rash on the skin
  • Incidence of red spots on the skin
  • Experiencing skin hives

Some tips to prevent the bad effects of volcanic ash :

  • Use a mask or wet cloth to cover your nose
  • Use goggles to prevent your eyes from volcanic ash
  • You should not wear contact lenses for a while
  • Use eye drops or the like to clean up your eyes
  • Use long sleeves or long pants so that your skin does not come into direct contact with volcanic ash
  • To clean up volcanic ash should be sprayed with water so as not volcanic ash floating .
  • Use a damp cloth to clean the items exposed to dust
  • Wash your skin is exposed to volcanic ash with water and soap
  • When washing cloth or clothing that has been exposed to volcanic ash should be cleaned first before being mixed with other clothing .

THE HEALTH HAZARDS OF VOLCANIC ASH (part 4 Indirect health effects )

THE HEALTH HAZARDS OF VOLCANIC ASH (part 2 EYES)


THE HEALTH HAZARDS OF VOLCANIC ASH

A guide for the public

This   document   has   been   prepared   by   the International  Volcanic  Health  Hazard  Network (IVHHN), Cities and Volcanoes Commission, GNS Science and the United States Geological Survey (USGS)  to  promote  the  safety  of  those  who experience volcanic ashfall. This guide explains the potential health effects of volcanic ash and gives details on how to protect yourself and your family in the event of a volcanic ash fall.

Eye Symptoms

Eye irritation is a common health effect as pieces of grit can cause painful scratches in the front of the eye (corneal
abrasions) and conjunctivitis. Contact lens wearers need to be especially aware of this problem and leave out their lenses to
prevent corneal abrasion from occurring.

Common symptoms include:

  • Eyes feeling as though there are foreign particles in
  • them.
  • Eyes becoming painful, itchy or bloodshot.
  • Sticky discharge or tear
  • Corneal abrasions or scratches.
    Acute conjunctivitis or the inflammation of the conjunctival sac that surrounds the eyeball due to the presence of ash, which leads to redness, burning of the eyes, and photosensitivity.

Eye protection

In fine-ash environments, wear goggles or corrective eyeglasses instead of contact lenses to protect eyes from irritation.

EYE FIRST AID

To minimize potential eye irritation:

  • Wear sunglasses (wrap-around styles are best) or goggles. The best are swimmers goggles that fit tight around the eyes.
  • Stay indoors when pollution levels are at their peak
  • Flush eyes with cool water or eye wash
  • Apply a cool compress to relieve discomfort
  • Lubricating eye drops may help prevent soreness or itching
  • Contact lens wearers should remove their lenses at the first sign of eye irritation and thoroughly clean them in their medicated cleaning solution

If symptoms persist you should seek advice from your doctor or optometry.

 

THE HEALTH HAZARDS OF VOLCANIC ASH (part 3 SKIN)

 

THE HEALTH HAZARDS OF VOLCANIC ASH (part 1 LUNGS)


THE HEALTH HAZARDS OF VOLCANIC ASH

A guide for the public

This   document   has   been   prepared   by   the International  Volcanic  Health  Hazard  Network (IVHHN), Cities and Volcanoes Commission, GNS Science and the United States Geological Survey (USGS)  to  promote  the  safety  of  those  who experience volcanic ashfall. This guide explains the potential health effects of volcanic ash and gives details on how to protect yourself and your family in the event of a volcanic ash fall.

What is volcanic ash?

Volcanic ash is composed of fine particles of fragmented volcanic
rock (less than 2 mm diameter). Volcanic ash is often hot very
close to the volcano but is cool when it falls at greater distances.
It is formed during volcanic explosions, from avalanches of hot
rock that flow down the side of volcanoes, or from red-hot liquid
lava spray. Ash varies in appearance depending upon the type of
volcano and the form of the eruption. Thus, it can range in color
from light grey to black and can vary in size from being like grit
to being as fine as talcum powder. Airborne ash blocks out
sunlight, reducing visibility and sometimes causes complete
darkness during day light.
Large ash deposits can incorporate into existing soils and become the future topsoil of a volcanic region. The fertility of the soils around many volcanoes is due to old ash deposits. This beneficial effect of volcanism outweighs, over time, the hazards.
Eruptions can also generate thunder and lightning from
friction between the fine, airborne particles which can be
localized above the volcano or accompany large ash plumes as
they move downwind from infrequent eruptions, so
fertile volcanic areas are often densely populated.
Freshly fallen ash particles can have acid coatings which may
cause irritation to the lungs and eyes. This acid coating is rapidly
removed by rain, which may then pollute local water supplies.
Acidic ash can also damage vegetation, leading to crop failure.
In most eruptions, volcanic ash causes relatively few health problems, but generates much anxiety. People can be more
fearful of the health hazards of volcanic ash and gases than of the risk of dying from more major hazards, such as pyroclastic
flows. However, ash falls can affect very wide areas around volcanoes and may cause major disruption to normal living.
Medical services can expect an increase in the number of patients
with respiratory and eye symptoms during and after an
ashfall event (see IVHHN guidelines on advice to the medical community).

What are the effects of ash on health?

Effects of ash on health may be divided into several categories:

Respiratory effects, eye symptoms, skin irritation and indirect
effects.

Respiratory effects

In some eruptions, ash particles can be so fine that they are
breathed deep into the lungs. With high exposure, even healthy
individuals will experience chest discomfort with increased
coughing and irritation.
Common acute (short-term) symptoms include:
  • Nasal irritation and discharge (runny nose).
  • Throat irritation and sore throat, sometimes accompanied by dry coughing.
  • People with pre-existing chest complaints may develop severe bronchitic symptoms which last some days beyond
  • exposure to ash (for example, hacking cough, production of sputum, wheezing, or shortness of breath).
  • Airway irritation for people with asthma or bronchitis; common complaints of people with asthma include
  • shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing.
  • Breathing becomes uncomfortable.
In rare circumstances, long-term exposure to fine volcanic ash may lead to serious lung diseases. For these diseases to occur, the
ash must be very fine, contain crystalline silica (for the disease silicosis to occur) and the people must be exposed to the ash in
high concentrations over many years. Exposure to crystalline silica in volcanic ash is typically of short duration (days to weeks),
and studies suggest that the recommended exposure limits (similar in most countries) can be exceeded for short periods of
time for the general population.
People suffering from asthma or other lung problems such as bronchitis and emphysema, and severe heart problems are most at risk.

 

Why are people with chronic lung problems at special risk?

The fine ash particles irritate the airways and cause them to
contract, making breathing more difficult in people who already have
lung problems. The fine dust also causes the lining of the airways to
produce more secretions which can cause people to cough and breathe
more heavily. Asthma sufferers, especially children who may be
heavily exposed to the ash when they play, may suffer bouts of
coughing, tightness of the chest and wheezing. Some people who have never knowingly had asthma before, may experience asthma symptoms following an ash fall, especially if they go outdoors in the ash and over-exert themselves.

What factors affect respiratory symptoms?

The development of respiratory symptoms from the inhalation of volcanic ash depends on a number of factors. These include the
concentration of particles in the air, the proportion of fine particles in the ash, the frequency and duration of exposure, the
presence of crystalline silica and volcanic gases or aerosols mixed with the ash, and meteorological conditions. Existing
health conditions and the use of respiratory protective
equipment will also influence the symptoms experienced.

THE HEALTH HAZARDS OF VOLCANIC ASH (part 2 EYES)

THE HEALTH HAZARDS OF VOLCANIC ASH (part 5 What to do to protect yourself against ash)


THE HEALTH HAZARDS OF VOLCANIC ASH

A guide for the public

This   document   has   been   prepared   by   the International  Volcanic  Health  Hazard  Network (IVHHN), Cities and Volcanoes Commission, GNS Science and the United States Geological Survey (USGS)  to  promote  the  safety  of  those  who experience volcanic ashfall. This guide explains the potential health effects of volcanic ash and gives details on how to protect yourself and your family in the event of a volcanic ash fall.

What to do to Protect Yourself Against Ash

Limit Driving

Immediately after an ash fall, even a light one, driving conditions, visibility and air quality can be dramatically
affected, especially by the resuspension of ash by traffic.
Rainfall has a sudden but temporary effect in improving air quality until the ash dries out again. We recommend that, following an ash fall, you refrain from driving and stay indoors if possible. If you must drive, maintain a large distance from the vehicle in front of
you and drive slowly.

Reduce ash in your house

Keep all doors and windows closed whenever possible.

Eye protection

In fine-ash environments, wear goggles or corrective eyeglasses instead of contact lenses to protect eyes from irritation.

Protection

Those undertaking clean-up operations should always wear effective dust masks (see IVHHN Recommended
Masks document at http://www.ivhhn.org). If no approved mask is available, a fabric mask improvised from cloth
will filter out the larger ash particles which may contribute to throat and eye irritation. Dampening
the fabric with water will improve its effectiveness. People with chronic bronchitis, emphysema or asthma
are advised to stay inside and avoid unnecessary exposure to ash.

Drinking Water

After light ash fall it is usually safe to drink water contaminated with ash, but it is better to filter off the
ash particles before drinking. However, ash increases the chlorine requirement in disinfected surface-collected
water which, therefore, can be microbiologically unsafe to drink. Ash will usually make drinking water
unpalatable (sour, metallic or bitter-tasting) before it presents a health risk. The safest way to ensure your well-being is to stock up on water prior to the event. Collect enough drinking water for at least a week (up to one gallon , or 3-4 litres, per person per day). If you rely on collecting rainwater, cover the tank and disconnect any down pipes before ash fall occurs.

Home-grown food

Ash-covered vegetables grown in fields are safe to eat after washing with clean water

Clean Up

Lightly water down the ash deposits before they are removed by shoveling, being careful not to excessively
wet the deposits on roofs, causing excess loading and danger of collapse. Dry brushing can produce very high
exposure levels and should be avoided. Hosing uses large quantities of water and may cause water
shortages in heavily-populated areas.