On September 19, the Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted on the Spanish island of La Palma, one of the Canary Islands. The eruption came after an earthquake that occurred eight days earlier. It is the first eruption on the island since 1971. To date, more than 7000 people have been evacuated and the lava has covered 779 hectares so far.
Sulfur dioxide levels forecast for Wednesday 20 at 9:00 am. (Máté H. Huszár/Windy.com)
Despite having already completed a month since the eruption, volcanic activity continues to threaten the tranquility now not only of the island’s residents but also on the European continent. According to the Windy.com page and its monitoring software for different weather conditions, a sulfur dioxide cloud spreads across the continent and would arrive in Croatia in the early hours of the morning. According to Máté H. Huszár, TCN collaborator, air pollution levels are expected to be quite high around 200 mg / m ^ 3 which is about 76 ppm. People with asthma and COPD may be more sensitive to it.
In the upper right corner, on the Wind icon, click and look for the ” SO2 ” layer, to monitor the spread of sulfur dioxide in the air.
Volcanic smog or vog, which contains SO2, poses a health hazard by aggravating preexisting respiratory ailments, indicates the US Geological Survey. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas can irritate skin and the tissues and mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and throat, and can penetrate airways, producing respiratory distress in some individuals. Aerosol particles in vog can also penetrate deep into human lungs and, at elevated levels, can induce symptoms of asthma.
Physical complaints associated with vog exposure include headaches, breathing difficulties, increased susceptibility to respiratory ailments, watery eyes, sore throat, flu-like symptoms, and a general lack of energy. Again, like mentioned above, air pollution levels are expected to be quite high, about 76ppm. Below, a chart that indicates the relation of pollution with health hazards:
Máté H. Huszár (Screenshot/IVHHN)
Tiny droplets of sulfuric acid in vog create acid rain, which can leach lead from roofing and plumbing materials, such as nails, paint, solder, and metal flashings. Leached lead poses a health hazard when it contaminates drinking water in rooftop rainwater-catchment systems.
The presence of vog reduces visibility, creating a potential hazard for drivers. Vog can also limit visibility for air and ocean traffic.
In order to protect yourself from health hazards provoked by the sulfur dioxide cloud in Croatia, especially if you have asthma or another respiratory condition, experts suggest to:
- Avoid outdoor activities, stay indoors. Remember also to shut down windows and doors.
- Cover your nose, ideally with an N95 face mask.
- Drink plenty of water to reduce any throat irritation or constriction.
- Seek help from a doctor or reach any health center if needed. Vulnerable groups include people with health conditions, pregnant women, the elderly, and children.
For more information and recent updates about the volcanic eruption of Cumbre Vieja in La Palma, click here.
For more news about Croatia, click here.