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Effects of ash on health — Information related to Mt. Shinmoedake's recent volcanic activity

Effects of ash on health may be divided into several categories: respiratory symptoms, eye symptoms and skin irritation. Refer to the following information to prevent health issues.

In rare circumstances when there is a lot of ash, people may experience the following symptoms:

1) Respiratory symptoms:

   * Nasal irritation

   * Throat irritation and sore throat

   * Coughing

People suffering from asthma, bronchitis, emphysema​, or severe heart problems are most at risk.

2) Eye symptoms:

   * Eye irritation 

   * Eyes becoming painful, itchy or bloodshot

3) Skin irritation:

While not common, volcanic ash can cause skin irritation for some people.

Symptoms include:

   * Irritation and reddening of the skin

   * Skin becoming painful and swollen

When ash is falling, you should:

  • Brush the ash off your hair and clothes before you go inside
  • Wash your hands and rinse your mouth when you come home
  • When outside, wear a mask and use an umbrella
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes if ash gets inside, instead rinse your eyes with clear water
  • Contact lens wearers should leave out their lenses to prevent corneal abrasion from occurring
In case of health issues due to eye troubles or inhaled ash etc, please consult a doctor.

In the event of heavy ash fall:

  • If possible, stay inside
  • If you must go outside, wear long sleeves and put on a mask and hat and use an umbrella
  • When cleaning, wear a mask and goggles. Lightly watering down the ash will keep exposure levels at a minimum

Precautions for children:

  • If possible, keep children inside
  • If children must be outdoors when ash is present in the air, they should wear masks
  • Do not let children play in places where ash is deep on the ground or piled up
  • Children should be advised against strenuous play or running when ash is in the air, since exertion leads to heavier breathing, drawing small particles more deeply into the lungs.

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