Toluca, State of Mexico; June 7, 2023.

AleRecent volcanic activity has raised concerns about Effects on the health of populations exposed to volcanic ash. The composition and characteristics of this substance can cause a number of health problems ranging from irritation of the respiratory tract to more serious complications in people with pre-existing respiratory diseases.

Volcanic ash is composed of fragments of rocks, minerals, and volcanic glass, with particles varying in size. Large particles become trapped in the nose and throat, causing nasal congestion, runny nose, cough, shortness of breath, irritation and sore throat. however, are the smallest particleswith a size smaller than 2.5 µm, Those that represent a greater risk, as they can reach the alveoli, the finest parts of the respiratory system.

the abrasiveness of volcanic ash, with its inability to dissolve in water, Enhances the effect on the respiratory system. Additionally, these particles may contain gases such as carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide produced during volcanic eruptions. Contact of sulfur dioxide with water can lead to the formation of sulfuric acid, which is extremely harmful to the respiratory tract.

Photo: skyalert

people with pre-existing respiratory diseasessuch as asthma, bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, They are particularly sensitive to the effects of volcanic ash. These conditions may worsen with exposure, leading to severe breathing difficulties and pulmonary complications.

In addition to respiratory problems, Volcanic ash can also have negative effects on the eyes. Eye irritation and damage is common, including conjunctivitis, dry eye, sensitivity to light, tearing, sensation of a foreign particle, discharge, redness and, in extreme cases, corneal abrasion.

skin It can also be affected by volcanic ash. Irritation, allergies and dermatitis are common skin problems from exposure to this substance. In addition, accidentally ingesting volcanic ash or water contaminated with it can cause stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

it is important to note that People who smoke are more likely to develop respiratory symptoms when exposed to volcanic ash. The presence of ash particles in the air as well as tobacco smoke can aggravate respiratory problems and increase the risk of complications.

Also, it is advised to stay informed through official channels and follow the recommendations of the health authorities. Proper ash cleanup in indoor locations is also important to reduce ongoing exposure.

With information from: UNAM Gazette

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