The pollution level in Reykjavík and other parts of the country peaked yesterday at 40 times the upper safe limit. This is the first time since the last volcanic eruptions in 2010-2011 that the pollution levels have been so high. This time dust, and not ash, is to blame.
According to the safe limit for particle pollution, particle matter should not exceed 50 micrograms per square meter but in Reykjavík it was 420 micrograms per square meter with spikes of up to 2,000 micrograms. People with respiratory diseases have been urged to avoid areas of the city with heavy traffic.
Kristín Lóa Ólafsdóttir, specialist at the Reykjavík Health Authority, told ruv.is that she believes a lot of the dust is sand and salt used on the roads during winter but also dust in the environment including sand from the eastern part of the country blowing to the capital with the strong wind in recent days. As it hasn’t rained in the capital for quite a few days now the ground is also very dry.