Evaluating the respiratory health risks of volcanic ash at the eruption of the Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat, 1995 to 2010
Published:January 01, 2014
P. J. Baxter, A. S. Searl, H. A. Cowie, D. Jarvis, C. J. Horwell, 2014. "Evaluating the respiratory health risks of volcanic ash at the eruption of the Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat, 1995 to 2010", The Eruption of Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat from 2000 to 2010, G. Wadge, R. E. A. Robertson, B. Voight
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The management and outcomes of the volcanic crisis on Montserrat, which began with the onset of activity at the Soufrière Hills Volcano (SHV) on 18 July 1995, might have been very different without the scientific precedents set by the Mount St Helens eruption, USA, on 18 May 1980, and the research advances that followed. This narrative is intended to show the steps taken by health scientists in response to the unfolding developments at the volcano to characterize the hazard presented by the volcanic ash and to devise mitigation measures to prevent the development of irreversible lung disease in the island population. Initial assessments of the health risk for silicosis were deterministic and based on industry exposure limits derived from published epidemiological and clinical studies of workers exposed to dusts containing free crystalline silica. However, by 2003, new research findings on the ash enabled the risk to be updated with a probabilistic approach incorporating the expertise of scientists from a wide range of disciplines including toxicology, volcanology and statistical modelling. The main outcome has been to provide reassurance to the islanders and policy makers that the chances of developing silicosis on Montserrat are very small given the preventive measures that were adopted during 1995–2010 and the change in style of the eruption.
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The Eruption of Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat from 2000 to 2010
The 1995 to present eruption of Soufrière Hills Volcano on Montserrat is one of the most important and best-studied eruptions of an explosive andesitic volcano. This volume presents scientific findings from the period between 2000 and 2010; it follows on from Memoir 21, which focused on the early years of activity between 1995 and 1999. In addition to descriptions and analysis of the growth, collapse and explosions associated with lava domes, there are papers on the deformation of the volcano caused by the deep magma, the petrology and geochemistry of the lavas and associated gases. Of particular note are: an overview of the insights into the deep structure of the volcano that resulted from a major international seismic tomography experiment; and an analysis of the quantitative risk assessment process that has run now for most of the eruption, the longest such continuous assessment in the world.