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