Volcanic ash doesn’t pose health risk: WHO

Particles remain high in the atmosphere, organization says

The World Health Organization has toned down its original warning that the ash cloud grounding flights is “very dangerous” for those with asthma and respiratory problems. It’s now saying there’s no cause for public health alarm. “There are no effects on health at the moment, except in the vicinity of the volcano in Iceland,” Carlos Dora of the public health and environment division told a news briefing. Even so, Icelanders who live near the volcano should stay indoors or wear face masks or goggles for protection against particles that can irritate lungs and eyes, but the most dangerous ash particles are the smallest one, which can move deep into the lungs, and have moved further from the volcano site in an ash plume spreading over Europe. Those fine particles are “very high up” and might disperse without causing health problems, he said. For the time being, there’s no need for people in Europe to take extra precautions, he said.


Looking for more?

Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.