The first toxicological studies of the health effects of volcanic ash were carried out following the eruption of Mount St Helens in 1980. Twenty one studies were carried out on the respiratory toxicity of the Mount St Helens ash (7 in vitro and 14 in vivo studies). Toxicology studies have also played a major role in the assessment of the potential respiratory health hazard of the Soufriere Hills volcanic ash (Montserrat, West Indies). Toxicological studies are of great importance because they allow the comparison of the relative toxicities of volcanic dusts with reference compounds of known toxicity.
The most recent toxicological studies have likened the toxicity of volcanic ash (Soufriere Hills) to that of coal-mine dust (Cullen et al. 2002).
Download our pamphlets on preparing for ashfall and on the health hazards of ash. They are designed for mass distribution at the onset of new eruptions. They are now avaiable in English, Japanese, French Spanish, Portuguese, Swahili, Indonesian and Icelandic with Italian versions being available shortly. Please see our Pamphlets page for further infomation.