Update on eruption and falling ash

17.04.2010 - 11:25
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Red Cross mass care centre in Heimaland has been opened for those residents in the areas affected by the ash fall and who wish to temporarily evacuate their homes. The local emergency centre does not consider it necessary to order an evacuation of the area in response to the ash fall at this moment in time, but feels that these services may be useful to some families.

There is considerable ash fall resulting from the volcanic eruption under the Eyjafjallajökull glacier. The ash that is falling is composed of fine and course particles. The wind direction and other meteorological conditions have an impact on where the ash falls to earth.

The most common effects are.

  • Respiratory effects: Common short-term symptoms include:
  • Nasal irritation and discharge (runny nose).
  • Throat irritation and sore throat, sometimes accompanied by dry coughing.
  • Breathing becomes uncomfortable.
  • 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.

Eye irritation is a common health effect as pieces of grit can cause painful scratches in the front of the eye and conjunctivitis. Contact lens wearers need to be especially ware of this problem.

  • Eye symptoms: Common short-term symptoms include:
  • Eyes feeling as though there are foreign particles in them.
  • Eyes becoming painful, itchy or bloodshot.
  • Sticky discharge or tearing
  • Corneal abrasions or scratches.
  • Acute conjunctivitis or inflammation due to the presence of ash, which leads to redness, burning of the eyes, and photosensitivity.

What  you can do to protect yourself against volcanic ash,

  • Use a mask when outside, and it is also recommended to wear protective clothing.
  • If a mask is not available the use a cloth over the mouth and nose to prevent  inhalation of larger particles.
  • Use protective goggles.
  • Children and adults with respiratory problems should remain indoors. Houses should be well heated so that an overpressure in the house maintained. This reduces the likelihood that ash seeps into the house.
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