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Volcanic air pollution and human health: recent advances and future directions

Stewart, C. and Damby, D. E. and Horwell, C. J. and Elias, T. and Ilyinskaya, E. and Tomašek, I. and Longo, B. M. and Schmidt, A. and Carlsen, H. K. and Mason, E. and Baxter, P. J. and Cronin, S. and Witham, C. (2022) 'Volcanic air pollution and human health: recent advances and future directions.', Bulletin of volcanology., 84 (1). p. 11.

Abstract

Volcanic air pollution from both explosive and effusive activity can affect large populations as far as thousands of kilometers away from the source, for days to decades or even centuries. Here, we summarize key advances and prospects in the assessment of health hazards, effects, risk, and management. Recent advances include standardized ash assessment methods to characterize the multiple physicochemical characteristics that might influence toxicity; the rise of community-based air quality monitoring networks using low-cost gas and particulate sensors; the development of forecasting methods for ground-level concentrations and associated public advisories; the development of risk and impact assessment methods to explore health consequences of future eruptions; and the development of evidence-based, locally specific measures for health protection. However, it remains problematic that the health effects of many major and sometimes long-duration eruptions near large populations have gone completely unmonitored. Similarly, effects of prolonged degassing on exposed populations have received very little attention relative to explosive eruptions. Furthermore, very few studies have longitudinally followed populations chronically exposed to volcanic emissions; thus, knowledge gaps remain about whether chronic exposures can trigger development of potentially fatal diseases. Instigating such studies will be facilitated by continued co-development of standardized protocols, supporting local study teams and procuring equipment, funding, and ethical permissions. Relationship building between visiting researchers and host country academic, observatory, and agency partners is vital and can, in turn, support the effective communication of health impacts of volcanic air pollution to populations, health practitioners, and emergency managers.

Item Type:Article
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Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.
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Status:Peer-reviewed
Publisher Web site:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00445-021-01513-9
Publisher statement:This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Date accepted:02 November 2021
Date deposited:10 January 2022
Date of first online publication:21 December 2021
Date first made open access:10 January 2022

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