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Home News centre National Press Releases 2011 Press Releases ›  Statement on health effects of Icelandic volcanic ash plume

Statement on health effects of Icelandic volcanic ash plume

24 May 2011

The Health Protection Agency is liaising closely with partner organisations across the United Kingdom to monitor the movement of the latest Icelandic volcanic ash plume.

Most recent information suggests that the plume from the Grímsvötn volcano has reached ground level in some parts of UK but concentrations of particles are unlikely to be sufficient to cause significant health effects. However, as a precaution people who suffer from asthma should carry their inhalers as they are more likely to experience irritation of the lungs and upper respiratory tract should they be exposed to any ash.

The previous eruption in of an Icelandic volcano in 2010 had no impact on public health in the UK. A study of respiratory and related symptoms reported to GPs in the UK in 2010 showed no unusual increases during the period when the dust from Iceland was present in the atmosphere.

The Grímsvötn volcano in Iceland erupted on the evening of Saturday 21 May. It is the most powerful Icelandic eruption in over 50 years.  In the first 24 hours the plume reached heights of 15-17km with short bursts to 20km. The plume height has currently reduced to 5 -7 km.

External Links

Centre for Disease Control and Prevention tracking page

Met Office

Health Protection Scotland

Last reviewed: 31 May 2011