No change in current WHO advice on potential health risks of volcanic ash cloud

Five days after the Iceland volcanic eruption, WHO continues monitoring the situation from a public health standpoint, and is in close contact with Member States in the European Region regarding preparedness and response measures.

According to data from national air quality monitoring systems in Europe, air quality on the ground has not deteriorated, and the observed variation remains in the range of normal fluctuations. There is no change in the current WHO advice about potential health risks: if the volcanic ash reaches ground level in higher concentrations the ash may cause health effects, but these are likely to be minimal.

Normal precautions are advised, i.e. avoidance of strenuous exercise by people with asthma and respiratory symptoms in days with high air pollution.

The European project CITEAIR provides a daily overview of air quality in 84 European cities. This collaborative project is co-funded by the European Union's INTERREG Programme and is implemented in collaboration with the European Commission (DG Environment) and the European Environment Agency.

Data from several national air quality monitoring networks is also available online. The European Environment Agency maintains a monitoring system called "Eye on Earth" pulling together monitoring data from air monitoring stations in 32 countries, including updates provided by citizens.

Since the ash concentration may vary from country to country depending on the wind and air temperature, WHO advises people to follow the most up-to-date advice from their national health, air quality assessment and meteorological authorities.