Even when volcanoes are not erupting ash or lava, their emissions can be extremely rich in acids (e.g. sulphur dioxide gas), fine particulate matter (e.g. PM2.5) and heavy metals, presenting a serious air pollution hazard. PM2.5 pollution alone (from natural and anthropogenic sources) is estimated to cause over 3 million premature deaths per year, with 90% of these in the developing countries of the Global South

Persistent volcanic emissions (vumo) have been associated with negative health impacts, including for example increased respiratory problems

While the effects of short-term exposure to high concentrations of volcanic air pollutants are relatively well quantified, the long-term exposure to lower-level but persistent volcanic emissions are poorly known

UNRESP foundation phase includes a partnership with public health experts to carry out a preliminary investigation of the health impacts of Masaya’s vumo, which will provide basis for more extensive study in follow-up work

Public health work is led by 

Dr Peter Baxter at the Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge

Dr Marvin Gonzalez and Dr Aurora Aragon at Centro de Investigación en Salud, Trabajo y Ambiente (CISTA), Universidad National Autónoma de Nicaragua, León

The featured image shows evacutation of tourists from Aso volcano, Japan, due to elevated gas levels