Classification: Volcanic ash belongs to the fine powdered rocks, and is composed of various minerals and amorphous phases.
Synonyms/Trade Names: None.
Chemistry/Composition: Amorphous silicates constitute 65% of the dust and, in addition, varying concentrations of iron and aluminum oxides, lime, soda, potash, crystalline silica (1-6%), and zeolites; compare to zeolite.
Key Hazards: Fibrogenic, acute intoxication.
Involved Organs: Lung.
Exposure/Epidemiology: Exposure may occur after volcanic eruptions, which can distribute the ash over hundreds of square miles.
Thresholds: Eruptions are considered to be harmless, if the dust concentration in the air does not exceed 10 mg of dust/m3 of air.
Etiology/Pathophysiology: High concentrations induce acute inflammation of the upper and lower respiratory tract and have, according to the results of animal experiments, a fibrogenic potency.
Lung Diseases: Acute irritative inflammation of the lung, and, slow progressive fibrosis.
Clinical Presentation: Patients present with cough, dyspnea, and adult respiratory distress syndrome. The conducting airways may be occluded with dust-laden mucus causing death from suffocation.
Radiology: Chest radiographs show diffuse densities or granular infiltrates.
Lung Function: Usually obstructive changes.
Bronchoalveolar Lavage: The lavage fluid contains amounts of viscous mucus and dust particles.
Gross: The lungs are heavy, of dark-grayish color, and edematous.
Histology: The conducting airways are filled with grayish-black, viscous mucus. The bronchial walls and distant airways display collections of acute inflammatory infiltrates.
Prognosis: Usually good, and depending on the amount of inhaled dust particles. Survivors of severe intoxication may develop slow progressive interstitial fibrosis.
Additional Diseases: None.
search Pubmed for Volcanic Ash
Adler KB, Mossman BT, Butler GB, Jean LM, Craighead JE: Interaction of Mt. St Helens volcanic ash with cells of the respiratory epithelium. Environ Res 2 (1984) 346-361
Adler KB, Mossman BT, Butler GB, Jean LM, Craighead JM: Interaction of Mt. St Helens volcanic ash with cells of the respiratory epithelium. Environ Res 35 (1984) 346-361
Arnbjornsson E, Arnbjornsson A, Olafsson A: Thyreoid cancer incidence in relation to volcanic ash. Arch Environ Health 1 (1986) 36-40
Buist AS, Vollmer WM, Johnson LR, Bernstein RS: A four-year prospective study of the respiratory effects of volcanic ash from Mt. St Helens. Am Rev Respir Dis 4 (1986) 526-534
Dail DH, Hammar SP: Pulmonary Pathology. Springer, New York (1988)
Kayser K: Analytical Lung Pathology. Springer, Heidelberg, New York (1992)
Martin TR, Wehner AP, Butler J: Pulmonary toxicity of Mt. St. Helens volcanic ash. A review of experimental studies. Am Rev Respir Dis 128 (1983) 158-162
Martin TR, Ayars G, Butler J, Altman JC: The comperative toxicity of volcanic ash and quartz. Effects on cells derived from the human lung. Am Rev Respir Dis 130 (1984) 778-782
Olenchock SA, Mull JC, Mentnech MS, Lewis DM, Bernstein RS: Changes in humoral immunologic parameters after exposure to volcanic ash. J Toxicol Environ Health 11 (1983) 395-404
Prata AJ, Barton IJ, Johnson RW, Kamo K, Kingwell J: Hazard from volcanic ash. Nature. 354 (1991) 25
Schreider JP, Culbertson MR, Raabe OG: Comparative pulmonary fibrogenic potential of selected particles. Environ Res 38 (1985) 256-274
Shirakawa M, Fukushima R, Kyushima K: Experimental studies on the effect of Mt. Sakurajima volcanic ashes on the respiratory organs. Sangyo Igaku 26 (1984) 130-146
Vallyathan V, Mentnech MS, Tucker JH, Green FH: Pulmonary response to Mt. St Helens’ volcanic ash. Environ Res 30 (1983) 361-371
Wakisaka I, Yanagihashi T, Sato M, Tomari T: Health effects of volcanic air pollution an analysis of the national health insurance. Nippon Eiseigaku Zasshi 44 (1989) 977-986
Yano E, Yokoyama Y, Nishii S: Chronic pulmonary effects of volcanic ash: an epidemiological study. Arch Environ Health 2 (1986) 94-98