The plume of ash from the currently erupting Icelandic volcano is temporarily leaving Scotland, swinging over Scandinavia and returning to southern England, with a fresh plume expected over Scotland later in the weekend.
There is no change to current health protection advice as there has been no significant change in the way the plume of volcanic ash is behaving. It is patchy, mainly at high altitude, with only small amounts reaching ground level.
The Met Office has advised that no major changes in ground level air pollution concentrations are expected over the UK during the weekend as a result of weather patterns. However it is not possible to predict whether there will be any changes in the pattern of volcanic eruptions and the situation is being kept under close scrutiny.
It is possible that there might be some light rain during the weekend which may cause low concentrations of Icelandic volcanic ash to be deposited across the United Kingdom.
It is important to recognise that the volcanic ash poses no health threat while conditions are wet as the particles cannot be inhaled under these conditions.
In the event of rain it is anticipated that only very low concentrations of volcanic ash would be deposited in fields and towns and there are unlikely to be significant health effects among the general public when the rain dries.
However, because small quantities of volcanic ash could float back up into the air in windy conditions it would be sensible for people with existing respiratory conditions such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma to ensure they keep their inhalers or other medications with them.
If people are outside 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. Any such health effects are likely to be short term. Health Protection Scotland, The Health Protection Agency, Public Health Wales, SEPA and the Met Office will continue to monitor the situation and issue any further advice or updates as necessary.
Any enquiries on the likely duration of the ash plume over the UK should be addressed to the Met Office.
0141 300 1117
Notes to the Editor
Information on air quality in Scotland is available from http://www.scottishairquality.co.uk.
Additional information can be found at the website of the Committee on Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) http://www.dh.gov.uk/ab/comeap/index.htm.
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.