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15 Apr 2010 Volcanic Ash in Scotland: Health Advice Updated

Updated information on weather patterns in the UK now indicates that volcanic ash associated with the current eruption in Iceland will reach ground level over the UK, starting in Scotland this evening before moving south over the course of the night.

Based on this, updated information for the public is given below by Health Protection Scotland, in conjunction with the Health Protection Agency and the Met Office.

It is important to stress that the concentration of particles which does reach ground level is likely to be low and should not cause serious harm. If people are outside this evening and notice symptoms such as itchy or irritated eyes, runny nose, sore throat or dry cough, or if they notice a dusty haze in the air or can smell sulphur, rotten eggs, or a strong acidic smell, they may wish to limit their activities outdoors or return indoors. Those with existing respiratory conditions such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma may notice these effects more than others and should ensure they have any inhalers or other medications with them.

Any such health effects are likely to be short term. Health Protection Scotland, the Health Protection Agency and the Met Office will continue to monitor the situation and issue any further advice or updates as necessary as the weather changes.

Low concentrations of volcanic dust, which may contain low levels of sulphur dioxide, are also expected to ground with the plume, although this is not expected to be a significant threat to public health.

Any enquiries on the likely duration of the ash plume over Scotland and the UK should be addressed to the Met Office.


Louise Kelly
0141 300 1117

Notes to the Editor

Information on air quality in Scotland is available from

Additional information can be found at the website of the Committee on Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP)

Health Protection Scotland (HPS) is part of NHS National Services Scotland (NSS); a special health board providing services critical to frontline patient care and which is supportive of the efficient and effective operation of NHS Scotland.