Eruption Affected Health Of Icelanders

5.9.2012
Words by Paul Fontaine
The April 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull had a negative health effect on those living in south Iceland, new research shows.

The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull sent an enormous ash cloud across Iceland and much of Europe. In addition to shutting down air traffic across the continent, little reported is the fact that south Icelanders had their own problems to contend with. Many living in the region are farmers, and were compelled to bring in their livestock as ash poured down over the region. Most also stayed in the area, albeit indoors, during the course of the eruption and subsequent ash cloud.

Researchers from the University of Iceland, Science Daily now reports, have compiled data linking volcanic ash to respiratory problems.
The results showed that people living close to the volcano had worse symptoms than those in the control population. Also, within the group living close to the volano, those who lived very close experienced more symptoms than those who were a bit further away.

When giving information on their symptoms during the previous month, the exposed group reported more phlegm (odds ratio 2.1), eye irritation (odds ratio 2.9) and a runny or irritated nose (odds ratio 2.0). They also reported a higher level of cough than the control group (odds ratio 2.6).
Hanne Krage Carlsen, the lead researcher of the group, told reporters, "The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland provided the opportunity for us to study the health effects of people living close to the volcano. Our results suggest that living close to a volcano after a substantial eruption can seriously increase the risk of respiratory symptoms. Although the long-term consequences are still unknown, this has important clinical relevance as healthcare professionals treating people in this situation need to be aware of the potential rise in respiratory symptoms."

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