Volcanic eruptions are natural disasters of our motherland. Therefore, it is inevitable. Unlike, typhoons where people are warned as to when will it land, eruptions are very unpredictable and at times, deadly.
Effects of Volcanic Ash
Volcanic lava, ashes and fumes are products of volcanic eruption. It may seem like a normal smoke, but it isn’t as it is filled with numerous hazardous chemicals that can affect your health. Its ashes are made up of fine rock dust made of silicon compounds and other elements that may pose some health problems.
Volcanic ash particles is approximately 10 micrometers small or smaller even which can easily pass through your eyes, nose and throat up to your lungs. It can also be absorb by the land and water that surrounds that area of volcano. It can just be a dust, but it is a dust that is fatal.
The volcanic ashes can cause silicosis, a lung disease cause by inhalation of crystalline silica dust which results to inflammation and permanent scars to your lungs. The same could happen if you happen to drink or use the water supply from which the ash falls into.
There are also few toxic aerosols contained by the volcanic ash such as hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide and hydrochloric and hydroflouric acid. As the wind easily carries the ashes, if you happen to inhale such toxic aerosols, it might cause you excessive coughing leading to shortness of breathing. Also, eyes are no exception for those ashes that went into your eyes can cause bleeding and worse, conjunctivitis.
Thus, these effects are most likely to occur with persons who already have heart and breathing problems like asthma. But in general, children holds the higher risk of health problems for they are still vulnerable as their body systems are still under development.
Pregnant women who carries the most vulnerable human being also holds the higher-risk of being affected by the volcanic ashes. Likewise, people who wear contact lens are also subject to hazardous chemicals wherein their eyes maybe infected and may result to losing the eye sight.
In order to prevent these health problems from happening, everyone especially pregnant women, elderly and children are advised to reduce exposure to volcanic ash by:
Staying indoors and reducing your outdoor activities
Staying well hydrated by drinking plenty of water
Storing as much as food, water and other necessities so that you won’t resort to going out
Wearing face-masks that would cover your mouth and nose to avoid breathing the ashes
People with existing chronic heart and lung conditions must ensure that medications are readily available on hand
Avoid physical contact with some outdoor objects as it may contain the chemicals of the volcanic ash
Avoid wearing contact lens; glasses or sun glasses may be used to protect your eyes from the ashes
Unlike earthquakes which occur suddenly, volcanic eruptions show signs before the actual eruption which are being monitored by experts and authorities. So, aside from the precautionary measures, the best thing to do is to be updated on the news and announcements of your respective municipalities and of course follow the advise of the authorities. After all, your life and health is the one at stake.