BY MAVSI N PODOKOLO
SOLOMON Islanders are urged to be cautious when using rain water despite no laboratory tests to ascertain the concentration of sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere following the Sunday volcano eruption in Tonga.
Satellite images have revealed sulphur dioxide from the recent volcanic eruption has reached a number of Pacific Island countries, including the Solomon Islands.
Yet local experts say there is still no cause for concern as from the concentration levels shown from the satellite images, it is still safe to use.
Chief Geologist of the Geological Survey Division in the Ministry of Mines, Minerals, Energy and Rural Electrification, Thomas Toba said from the satellite image shared, the volcanic ash cloud covered our region with an estimated concentration of 24.1mg/m2.
“This is in reference to area covered rather than volume but we must take all measures to ensure that our health is not compromised,” he said.
He said comparing this concentration level to the standard Ash- Advisory reference figures from Hawaii, they can say that the value shown in the image shared is comparably low to trigger much concern to our population.
“But prior to laboratory tests, this could be conservative as well.
“So, whilst awaiting results people can take all precautionary measures to avoid serious health issues, especially when using rain water from tanks.
Meanwhile, Mr Toba has advised local authorities to consult standard references from re-known volcano monitoring institutes when conducting laboratory tests on the issue.
“The advice we can render prior to any laboratory quantified tests is to lookup standard references from re-known volcano monitoring institutes in terms of volcanic ash, as a provision to guide and educate us on what to do and also understand what we are looking at in terms of the concentration value we are looking at here (24.1mg/m2).
SULPHUR- DIOXIDE EXPOSURE & SOME HEALTH RISKS
Sulphur dioxide can affect our Health in specifically in these ways
– Irritates skin and mucosa membranes of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs
– High concentration can cause inflammations and irritation of the respiratory system especially during heavy physical activity.
Resulting Symptoms can include
– Pain when taking a deep breath
– Coughing, throat irritation
– And breathing difficulties
– High concentrations can affect lung function, worsen asthma attacks and worsen existing heart diseases in sensitive groups. This gas can also react with other chemicals in the air and change to