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Acid Snow and Dead Mice from Eruption Pollution

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Acid Snow and Dead Mice from Eruption Pollution

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

Haze from the pollution in the East Fjords in September. Photo: Zoë Robert.

Acid snow due to toxic gases including SO2 emitted from the eruption in Holuhraun in the northeastern highlands has fallen near the eruption site.

Sigurður Reynir Gíslason, geochemist at the University of Iceland, told Morgunblaðið yesterday that the pH level of snow in the area measured pH 3.2 whereas the normal pH level of precipitation is 5.6. The pH level of the snow is 100 times that under normal conditions.

Precipitation in places as far from the eruption as Hornafjörður, Southeast Iceland, have been found to have a higher pH level.

According to Sigurður, the water from the snow once it melts could be very acidic.

Meanwhile, farmers in the Höfn area, Southeast Iceland, have found a large number of dead mice which appear to have died suddenly, ruv.is reports. It is assumed that they died due to high levels of pollution from the eruption. SO2 in the area measured 21,000 mµ/m3 in late October, a record in inhabited areas since the eruption began two months ago.

The Directorate of Health advises that at levels higher than 2,000 mµ/m3 people should stay indoors with the windows closed, the air conditioning off and the heaters on.

According to the Southeast Iceland Nature Center, the likely explanation is that the mice died from the pollution or something they ate but it is too late to perform an autopsy.

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