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Eruption Pollution Reaches Southwest Iceland

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Eruption Pollution Reaches Southwest Iceland

sulfur dioxide pollution from the Holuhraun eruption as seen over Reykjavík on September 20, 2014

The pollution haze seen from Reykjavík, Southwest Iceland, two weeks ago. Photo: Zoë Robert.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution from the Holuhraun eruption could be detected in Hvalfjörður, West Iceland, yesterday evening and in Norðlingaholt suburb of Reykjavík in the early afternoon. However, with maximum levels of 800 µg/m3 and 160 µg/m3, respectively, the pollution is much less severe than what it has been in North and East Iceland.

On Wednesday morning a record SO2 level of 5,800 µg/m3 was measured outside the school Reykjahlíðarskóli by Lake Mývatn in Northeast Iceland. The highest level until then was 4,000 µg/m3, measured in Reyðarfjörður, East Iceland, about one month ago, ruv.is reports.

At such high SO2 levels—above 2,000 µg/m3—people are advised to stay indoors.

The levels are based on a ten-minute average and they rarely remain high for long periods at a time. By Lake Mývatn on Wednesday, the SO2 levels had dropped again by the time the school started at 8:30 am and so teaching took place as usual.

Graphs showing SO2 pollution levels at different destinations around the country at each given time can be found on the website of the Environment Agency of Iceland (click on the dots on the map and then ‘more’).

The Icelandic Met Office publishes daily forecasts of the spread of SO2 gases from the Holuhraun eruption site with maps showing which areas will most likely be affected on each day and the following day.

Today, East Iceland is expected to be subjected to the most pollution from Öxarfjörður in the north to Höfn in the south. Tomorrow, a gas cloud is forecast to hang over North Iceland from Blönduós in the west to Öxarfjörður in the east.

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