Major volcanic eruptions like the one going on in Hawaii are rare, but they can lead to serious health concerns.
Volcanos produce gases mixed with water and tiny particles that form a type of pollution called vog. It can irritate the eyes and trigger heart attacks and respiratory problems such as asthma and wheezing.
Active volcanos also spew ash, which can lead to symptoms such as coughing, chest tightness and wheezing.
The American Lung Association suggests ways to deal with vog or ash:
- Do not smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke.
- Stay indoors and use air conditioning. Keep the AC’s setting on “recirculate.”
- Assume that your lung condition may deteriorate during periods of vog and ash, and contact your doctor as soon as any problem develops.
- Pay attention to the wind direction to find out if vog or ash is likely to be blown in your direction that day.
- Drink plenty of fluids, unless you have a medical condition that requires you to limit fluid intake.
- Avoid outdoor physical exertion.
- Don’t rely on a dust mask to filter out the smaller particles of pollution.
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