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Scientific Protocols

Epidemiological Protocols

Epidemiological protocols & HIA assessment

Ash Collection & analysis protocols

A set of protocols for scientists to enable rapid collection and analysis of ash.





Epidemiological protocols & HIA assessment


Epidemiological protocols for assessment of health impacts in eruption crises

Below are two standardized epidemiological protocols for use during eruption crises. The intent is for these protocols to be applicable in all volcanic contexts and settings, regardless of resource availability, health records systems, or timeframe. Advising relatively simple and inexpensive methods, these protocols mark the necessary first steps in tracking early health signals from inhalation of volcanic emissions. Consistent use among different eruptions will generate a strong, and comparable evidence base of the health impacts of eruptions.

  • Basic protocol: for rapid assessment of the respiratory (and other) health impacts from exposure to volcanic emissions.
  • Cross-sectional protocol: for detailed assessment of the extent to which exposure to volcanic emissions causes adverse respiratory and other health effects.

The protocols are accompanied by an introductory document which must be read in association with the protocols. You can also download a journal article about the protocols: Mueller et al. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 2020.

IVHHN Basic epidemiological protocol

IVHHN Cross-sectional epidemiological protocol

IVHHN Protocols introduction


Health Impact Assessment review

Here is a critical appraisal of the potential to conduct health impact assessments for volcanic environments and whether extrapolation of concentration-response functions from outdoor air pollution HIA studies may be used for assessing the extent of volcanic health risks to communities.

Mueller et al. GeoHealth, 2020: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2020GH000256


Ash Collection and analysis protocols


IVHHN has produced a set of protocols for scientists to enable rapid collection and analysis of ash.

Some protocols are provided fully translated into Japanese and Spanish. You can still use the translation tool on the right hand side to automatically translate the English articles into any of the available languages.

Protocol for rapid respiratory health hazard assessment

This protocol is designed to be conducted in a volcanic crisis, to rapidly assess the physicochemical characterstics of volcanic ash which may be a respiratory health hazard. The protocol also includes in vitro toxicological analyses to asses hazard directly on cells. The protocol consists of a series of techniques, not all of which will be conducted unless the ash appears to be particularly hazardous. It is recommended that particle size analysis is conducted first (to assess if ash is sufficiently small to enter the lung). Crystalline silica analysis should be conducted if the ash is sourced from a volcanic dome (via disruption of the dome in an explosive eruption, or via dome collapse).

For more details on techniques, and studies which have applied the protocol, please see: https://www.ivhhn.org/ivhhn-library/ash-impacts/ash-analysis-protocol.

For reports (and journal papers) from studies which applied the protocol during crisis responses, please see: https://www.ivhhn.org/crisis-management


Leachate Protocols

Protocol for analysis of volcanic ash samples for assessment of hazards from leachable elements.  These protocols accomapny the leachate part of the rapid respiratory health hazard assessment protocol (above) but are also for water quality assessment and gastric hazard assessment.

Please also see accompanying journal article by Stewart et al. 2020 (free to download) at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0377027319304172. Additionally, we recommend reference to the following article by Tomašek et al. 2021 on the use of simulated lung fluids for respiratory health hazard assessment: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0045653521007736.

Please note, the version here was posted on 14 December 2019. This is an updated version of the June 2013 protocol, based on further peer review, and replaces the June 2013 one.


Volcanic Ash Leachate Database

A new leachate database is in progress.

Ash Collection Procedures

Procedures for the collection of ash in various situations and purposes.


Ash Grain-Size Distribution Analysis

Grain-size distribution (GSD) analysis is a vital step in the assessment of the health hazard of volcanic ash, giving the quantity of respirable (< 4 µm) and sub-10µm particles in a bulk sample. This section details how to carry out GSD on ash samples.

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