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Sulfur Dioxide Pollution Spreads to Northeast Iceland

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Sulfur Dioxide Pollution Spreads to Northeast Iceland

sulfur dioxide pollution from Holuhraun eruption in Fáskrúðsfjörður, East Iceland, September 10, 2014

The pollution in East Iceland last week. Photo: Zoë Robert.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution from the eruption in Holuhraun spread to Northeast Iceland yesterday. The pollution measured 1,250 micrograms per cubic meter in Reykjahlíð near Lake Mývatn at 11 pm last night, which was much higher than the levels recorded during the day, ruv.is reports. The maximum safety limit for sulfur dioxide is 600 micrograms per cubic meter.

People in the area have reported respiratory discomfort.

The Icelandic Met Office has issued another warning valid until midnight for Northeast Iceland. Dispersion forecasts indicate a risk of high concentrations of sulfur dioxide in the Mývatn area, Kelduhverfi, Tjörnes, Húsavík, Aðaldalur and Reykjahverfi. A larger pollution area cannot be ruled out.

Pollution affected parts of East Iceland last week. In Reyðarfjörður sulfur dioxide measured a record 4,000 micrograms per cubic meter on Friday.

The Environment Agency of Iceland advises people in the affected area to close all windows and turn on the radiators when the levels are very high. However, when it gets very hot inside the heat stops keeping the gas out so when the pollution goes down again and the air is cleaner it is advised to turn off radiators and let fresh air in again.

The pollution monitoring station on Grensásvegur in Reykjavík also measured unusually high levels of sulfur dioxide last night. At 2-4 micrograms per cubic meter the levels were very low but it is thought that they are connected to the eruption.

Þorsteinn Jóhannsson, an expert in air pollution at the Environment Agency of Iceland, told ruv.is that the impact of the pollution is likely to be felt beyond North and East Iceland because the pollution is carried by the wind and can therefore theoretically be expected in all parts of the country.

Pollution levels can be monitored on the website of the Environment Agency of Iceland. The agency also publishes updates and advice on their Facebook page.

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