canic ash is not like any ordinary house dust as it is actually broken vol canic rock and glass
- Looking under a microscope, vol
canic ash looks like broken glass
- Long exposure to
ashfall could lead to serious h eal th issues
With the recent eru
ption of Taal Volcano, the Department of H ealth (DOH) has released a warning against the volcanic ash that have blanketed areas as far as Metro Manila.
ash may look like harmless dust, a look under a microscope showed it is hard, abrasive, jagged and dang erous. According to the International Vol canic Health Ha zard Network (IVHHN), vol canic ash is not just ash but broken vol canic rock which is less than 2mm diameter.
“It is formed during vol
canic explosions, from avalanches of hot rock that flow down the side of volcanoes, or from red-hot liquid l ava spray,” IVHHN explained.
A scanning electron microscope (SEM) image of an
ash particle showed that it is made of mineral, rocks and glass fragments. It is also hard, corrosive and does not dissolve in water.
ash blocks out sunlight, reduces visibility and sometimes causes complete darkness during day light. Imagine inhaling fragments of vol canic rocks and glass. Freshly fallen ash particles can have acid coatings which may cause irritation to the lu ngs and eyes. While uncommon, vol canic ash can also cause ski n irritation for some people, especially if the ash is acidic.
But the most serious concern is the development of respira
tory symptoms — since these ash particles are so fine they could easily be breathed deep into the lu ngs. Long term exposure to these ashes will lead to ch est discom fort and increased cou ghing and irritation. People with as thma or lu ng problems are the ones who are most at risk.
IVHHN has advised the following precautionary measures during ashfall: Stay indoors, use face mask, reduce
ash inside your house, and wear eye protection.