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19 Apr 2010 Update on Volcanic Ash in Scotland

There is no change to current health protection advice following latest information provided by the Met Office about the plume of volcanic ash. The ash continues to mix in different layers of the atmosphere with 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 as a result of current weather patterns. Health Protection Scotland, in conjunction with the Health Protection Agency, will continue to monitor all sources of available information and if there is any change to the current position which has new implications for public health then further health advice will be issued as necessary

It is likely that there will be rain in various parts of the UK and this 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 in wet weather 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, Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland 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.

[ENDS]

 Contact:
Louise Kelly
0141 300 1117
Louise.Kelly3@nhs.net

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.