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The effects of volcanic eruptions such as Vesuvius in AD79, which destroyed Pompeii and, more recently, Eyjafjallajökull’s disruption of global air travel are well established – but how much do we know about the healthcare risks and hazards for the people who live in the shadow of volcanoes?
Join Claire Horwell of Durham University as she explains how mineralogical and geochemical techniques can be used to assess the respiratory hazard that comes from volcanic ash and other types of dust such as desert and coal dust. Measurements of exposure to airborne particles are a key part of determining potential hazard, but so also is work to help communities prepare for and protect themselves from future volcanic emissions.
Claire will describe the gathering of evidence about local experience – often specific to particular volcanoes – and how this is used to supplement and revise official protection advice, which is often too general. Social science techniques that gather community knowledge are being used in partnership with geological expertise to build an evidence base, made available online and through booklets and posters.
In this way communities can make use of information that is specific to the volcanoes in whose shadow they live to provide effective respiratory protection during volcanic eruptions.
Yorkshire Philosophical Society talks are provided with the support of York Museums Trust, the British Science Association and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) North Yorkshire.
Dr Claire Horwell is a Reader in Durham University’s Department of Earth Sciences. She is founder and director of the International Volcanic Health Hazards Network, an umbrella organisation for volcanic health research and dissemination. She is a fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing and co-director of Durham’s Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience. She has acted as advisor to the World Health Organization, Public Health England and the UK Cabinet Office on the respiratory health hazards of volcanic ash. Claire also works with the New Zealand government and agencies, helping them to prepare for future volcanic eruptions.