From Iceland — First COVID Symptoms Can Also Be From Volcanic Pollution

First COVID Symptoms Can Also Be From Volcanic Pollution

Published July 22, 2021

Photo by
Art Bicnick

Some of the first symptoms of being possibly infected with the coronavirus also closely resemble the symptoms of volcanic air pollution, RÚV reports. It is therefore important to check the air quality every day, and get screened for the coronavirus if you experience any symptoms of infection regardless.

Some of the first symptoms of the coronavirus include irritation in the sinuses and throat, often resulting in chronic sneezing or coughing, but without an accompanying fever. As Þorsteinn Jóhannesson, an air quality specialist at the Environment Agency of Iceland, points out, these are also the symptoms of being affected by sulphur dioxide, a toxic gas released by volcanoes.

Air pollution from volcanoes has been especially high these days. A lack of wind and significant cloud cover can also exacerbate it.

Fortunately, there are two ways to monitor air quality in your area. Firstly, loftgaedi.is, where the current air quality in any part of Iceland can be seen. Secondly, the Icelandic Meteorological Office has a special page for volcano pollution which also predicts where the gas plume, and its concentrations, will flow within the next 36 hours or so.

That said, you should not rest on your laurels and assume that your symptoms are just from the volcano—if you experience any coronavirus infection symptoms, get screened immediately. You can do this by contacting your local health clinic to book a screening, or opening the online chat at heilsuvera.is (look for the button in the lower right labelled “Opna netspjall”).

Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.

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