When a volcanic eruption is happening, there would be a mixture of rock, minerals, and volcanic glass particles come out from a volcano. It turns to be volcanic ash that impacts to human health

What is Volcanic Ash?

Volcanic ash is solid particles ejected from a volcano when an eruption is happening in a very small size. It is less than 2 millimetres in diameter. Additionally, during a volcanic eruption huge quantities of material can be blown up reaching great height. It spreads many miles from the eruption site because of the winds carry it. Then, it falls down settling out as dust-like layer on the landscape. Differ from the as resulted from burning wood or other organic materials, volcanic ash is dangerous for our health. As it is a solid particles, when it comes through our eyes you can feel smarting. In addition to that, if you inhale the air contaminate with ash, it can cause a lung irritation and breathing problems.

How is the Impact on Human Health?

Exposure to volcanic ash is rarely endanger human’s life directly. However, there are some short-term effects that we could get from the particles and gases contained in the ash. The fallen ash particles can have acid coatings. Therefore it can cause irritation to the lungs or the respiratory system and eyes. Based on The Health Hazard of Volcanic Ash from the International Volcanic Health Hazard Networks, it emphasizes on three effects, such as respiratory, eyes, and skin.

Respiratory Effects

  • Nose Irritation and discharge or runny nose
  • Sore throat as well as coughing
  • Trigerring asthma, for someone who has it
  • Uncomfortable breathing

In a rare case, it can lead us to have serious lung disease if the exposure is in long-term.

How to Protect Yourself from Volcanic Ash Effects?

The ways to reduce the exposure to ash for examples:

  1. Keep ash out from your indoor environment by sealing your doors, windows, and other possible gaps.
  2. During the ash falls or afterwards, do not forget to wear a proper facemask.
  3. Wear goggles to protect your eyes from irritation
  4. Protect your skin with clothing to avoid direct exposure from ash
  5. People with asthma, chronic bronchitis, and other respiratory diseases are advised to be inside or evacuated.

Speaking about volcanic ash, we are happy that we had a chance to interact directly with people who are affected by eruption. One of Cambridge Mask teams, Nina, has experienced in touch with locals who are exposed by volcanic ash in Bali, Indonesia. A volcanic eruption on the Indonesian island of Bali resulted in tonnes of toxic fumes and ash spewing out into the surrounding air. On Sunday 25th November 2017 the active volcano Mount Agung (which is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire) began to erupt after more than half a decade of calm. Therefore, local Bali expat, Amanda Flynn reached out to us for help protecting her fellow islanders. You can read the full story in our blog, here.