WHO/Europe expert group concludes Icelandic volcanic ash currently poses no threat to public health

Health surveillance systems in countries in the WHO European Region detected no exposure of the population to volcano-related air pollution and no health effects which could have been potentially related to volcanic ash following the volcanic eruption of 14 April 2010 in Iceland.

This is the main conclusion of the scientific advisory group (SAG), convened for the third time by WHO/Europe in collaboration with WHO headquarters, to coordinate risk assessment, surveillance and monitoring regarding the volcanic ash cloud’s possible impact on health.

Countries’ reports have identified no exposure to volcanic ash and gases on ground level and no changes in the air quality situation over recent days.

Eruptions in Iceland have decreased in intensity. Owing to this and the volcano’s emission of coarser particles, ash is not expected to spread widely beyond Icelandic territory.

SAG will move into a stand-by mode unless further volcanic activity in Iceland necessitates a more active status. All members will continue exchanging information and data, including for longer-term research on similar events.

SAG members include experts from countries in the European Region and the United States, specialized in assessments of air quality and effects of air pollution on health, toxicology, atmospheric chemistry and vulcanology.