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Eruption Pollution in Iceland’s Capital Area

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Eruption Pollution in Iceland’s Capital Area

Two plumes from the Holuhraun eruption seen from a distance.

SO2 gases from the Holuhraun eruption compromise air quality in different locations in Iceland. Photo: Geir Ólafsson.

The Icelandic Met Office expects sulfur dioxide (SO2) gases from Holuhraun to drift across West and Southwest Iceland today and South and Southwest Iceland tomorrow, including Reykjavík and the greater capital area, as can be seen in the Met Office’s maps.

A press release from the Reykjavík Public Health Authority states that its employees are monitoring air quality closely. A map on its website shows the location of pollution sensors and the quality of air at each given time.

Green means that the air quality is good, yellow that people suffering from asthma could experience discomfort and red that people who are sensitive should stay inside and others avoid physical activity outside.

Yesterday afternoon the concentration of SO2 reached 800 mµ/m3 in Hvalfjörður, north of Reykjavík, and at some point today the pollution might reach similar levels in the capital. At levels above 600 mµ/m3 people are advised against engaging in physical activity outside.

The highest level of SO2 to be measured in an inhabited area since the eruption in Holuhraun started on August 29 was nearly 6,000 mµ/m3 by Lake Mývatn in Northeast Iceland last week. The East Fjords have also been subjected to similarly high levels of SO2 pollution.

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