People living near the glacier-covered volcano Eyjafjallajökull, which erupted in 2010, experience more respiratory ailments than others, according to a new study to be presented at the European Respiratory Society Congress in Vienna, Austria, today.
The Eyjafjallajökull eruption. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
The study is the result of research on the respiratory health of 1,148 people who lived in close proximity to Eyjafjallajökull, South Iceland, when the eruption began. Around five hundred individuals from North Iceland, where the eruption had little or no effect, was used as a comparison group, visir.is reports.
The symptoms experienced by those living close to the volcano include severe cough, phlegm, a runny nose and irritated eyes. The study found that the closer the individual lives to the volcano, the more severe the symptoms.
Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire on their well-being for the previous year. The survey was distributed six months after the eruption.
The study was carried out at the University of Iceland under lead researcher Hanne Krage Carlsen.
According to Krage Carlsen, the study is important in understanding the consequences of volcanic eruptions on those who will be most affected.
“The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland provided the opportunity for us to study the health effects of people living close to the volcano. Our results suggest that living close to a volcano after a substantial eruption can seriously increase the risk of respiratory symptoms. Although the long-term consequences are still unknown, this has important clinical relevance as healthcare professionals treating people in this situation need to be aware of the potential rise in respiratory symptoms,” she said.
When Eyjafjallajökull erupted in April 2010 it created a huge ash cloud, causing widespread disruption to air travel in Europe.
Click here to read more about the eruption.