In vitro evaluation of pulmonary deposition of airborne volcanic ash

Anna Lähde (Corresponding Author), Sigurbjörg Sæunn Gudmundsdottir, Jorma Joutsensaari, Unto Tapper, Jarno Ruusunen, Mika Ihalainen, Tommi Karhunen, Tiina Torvela, Jorma Jokiniemi, Kristiina Järvinen, Sigurður Reynir Gíslason, Haraldur Briem, Sveinbjörn Gizurarson

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    There has been an increasing interest in the effects of volcanic eruption on the environment, climate, and health following two recent volcanic eruptions in Iceland. Although health issues are mainly focused on subjects living close to the eruption due to the high concentration of airborne ash and gasses in close vicinity to the volcanoes, the ash may also reach high altitude and get distributed thousands of kilometers away from the volcano. Ash particles used in the studies were collected at the Eyjafjallajökull and Grímsvötn eruption sites. The composition, size, density and morphology of the particles were analyzed and the effect of particle properties on the re-dispersion and lung deposition were studied. The aerodynamic size and morphology of the particles were consistent with field measurement results obtained during the eruptions. Due to their size and structure, the ash particles can be re-suspended and transported into the lungs. The total surface area of submicron ash particles deposited into the alveolar and tracheobronchial regions of the lungs were 3–9% and 1–2%, respectively. Although the main fraction of the surface area is deposited in the head airways region, a significant amount of particles can deposit into the alveolar and tracheobronchial regions. The results indicate that a substantial increase in the concentration of respirable airborne ash particles and associated health hazard can take place if the deposited ash particles are re-suspended under dry, windy conditions or by outdoor human activity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)18-27
    JournalAtmospheric Environment
    Publication statusPublished - 2013
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • aerosolization
    • health
    • lung deposition
    • particle size
    • volcanic ash


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