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Link between Deaths and Hydrogen Sulfide Pollution

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Link between Deaths and Hydrogen Sulfide Pollution

Hellisheiði geothermal power plant

Archive photo. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

There are indications that there may be links between hydrogen sulfide coming from geothermal power plants Hellisheiðarvirkjun and Nesjavallavirkjun and the number of deaths among older people living in the vicinity of Reykjavík, according to a PhD project by Ragnhildur Finnbogadóttir at the University of Iceland.

Ragnhildur concluded that with increasing hydrogen sulfide pollution, the number of deaths increased, ruv.is reports.

“There’s a statistically significant connection [between air pollution] during the summer months and [deaths of] people 80 years and older. The increase in deaths ranged from just below two percent among older people up to five percent over the summer months,” she explained.

Ragnhildur stressed that further research is necessary. “No other study like this has been carried out in Iceland and overall, there are few studies in this field, so it’s difficult to state that there’s causation here,” she pointed out.

“However, another study, which was also carried out in Iceland, on the connection between hydrogen sulfide and asthma medicine prescriptions, also found a link. Therefore I think it’s necessary to look into it in more detail,” Ragnhildur concluded.

When RÚV’s journalists contacted the Reykjavík Health Protection Authority and Directorate of Health about Ragnhildur’s study earlier this week, the institutions’ representatives declined to comment as they hadn’t familiarized themselves with the study’s results.

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