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Health department advises precautions against volcanic ash and gases 

Health chiefs in the Canaries have asked people to take measures against exposure to volcanic ash and gases.

The Ministry of Health has warned that the high concentrations of gases and particles from the ashes can hit sight and breathing and also effect the skin if not covered up.

The most vulnerable people and those who can present more severe effects are those with previous health problems in their respiratory system, or who suffer from chronic diseases: bronchitis, emphysema, or those who suffer from asthma, as well as the elderly, and children in general.

Respiratory effects include irritation of the respiratory tract, leading to increased secretion that causes coughing spells and shortness of breath, as well as irritation and sore throat accompanied by a dry cough, although people with previous lung problems may develop symptoms severe bronchitis that persists for a few days after exposure to ashes and gases: dry cough, secretions, wheezing (wheezing) or dyspnea (shortness of breath) and a feeling of tension in the chest.

Children, pregnant women, the elderly and people who suffer from asthma or other lung or heart problems are those at greatest risk, so they should avoid exposure and contact with volcanic ash, the note highlights.

Contact of the ashes in the eyes can produce abrasions in the cornea and sensation of a foreign body in the eyes; acute conjunctivitis due to the presence of ashes that causes burning in the eyes and photosensitivity; and eye pain, stinging, sticky discharge, or tearing.

In relation to the skin, it warns of irritation and redness due to contact with volcanic ash, especially if it is acidic and infections secondary to scratching.

“If the ash persists in the air for a few days, depending on the duration of the emissions and the weather conditions, and that immediately after an ash rain, it is recommended to stay under cover inside the house , keeping all doors and windows closed,” said a spokesman.

People who must stay for a short time in an area exposed to ash during the eruptive process of the volcano should adopt individual protection measures: wear an FPP2 mask, goggles and cover the skin with a long-sleeved shirt. , pants and cap, and should not wear contact lenses.

In addition, clothing used at work contaminated with ash should not be mixed or shaken to avoid dispersion of the material inside the home.

The health department is also stressing the importance of cleaning and removing ashes from homes and streets, as they pose a potential health risk, in addition to the damage they can cause to goods and services.

In the home, a damp cloth should be used to clean the surfaces, while in the streets and squares, patios or areas of public use, before removing the ash it should be moistened with water, but not under pressure to avoid its spread and formation. clay, but through diffusers and even with showers in private patios.

Once moistened, it can be swept up and collected in garbage bags, but in no case should it be thrown into the drains, to avoid clogging the urban sewage network.

The experts also recommend turning off air conditioning systems with an outside air recirculation system and, once the interior surfaces of the home have been cleaned, ceiling or tower fans can be used.

Regarding the water from the home public supply, Public Health has reported that it is safe and that it is monitored daily.