Volcanic ash consists of fragments of rock, minerals, and volcanic glass, created during volcanic eruptions. Once in the air, the ash is transported by wind up to thousands of kilometers away. 

Outdoor activity should therefore be minimized, as exposure to ash can be harmful to your health, particularly the respiratory tract. Persons are therefore advised to stay indoors where possible.

This blog looks briefly at the impact on human health, infrastructure – namely pools & pool equipment, irrigation systems, landscape lights and buildings and seeks to provide tips on general safety and clean up.

Human Health

Volcanic Ash particles can be so fine that they are breathed deep into the lungs. With high exposure, individuals may experience chest discomfort and nasal irritation. Persons should limit their exposure to ash fall and use a mask to reduce inhalation of the volcanic ash.

Pools & Pool Equipment

Billows of Volcanic Ash in the air will result in ash settling on pool floors and suspending silt/mud in the water. It is not necessary for pools to be drained, water is a precious commodity. In addition, only cover pools with tarpaulins if they can be properly secured and removed without the contents on the tarps entering the pools. When the ash abates, your pool company will clean the water of the silt/mud and vacuum the ash from the floor. Pump seals, cartridge/sand filters, ball valves and cartridge filter O-rings should all be checked for damage.

Irrigation Systems

Volcanic ash will need to be cleaned from valve boxes. Pop-up sprinklers may sustain some damage due to the abrasiveness of the ash, causing water to leak around the shaft or for them not to pop-up or retract. Micro sprinklers may also be clogged or not perform correctly. Irrigation controllers, outdoor and submersible pumps and filters should be inspected for dust. 

Landscape Lights

Volcanic ash accumulation will most likely block the beam in up-lights but can easily be cleaned with a lens cleaner. Ash fall on transformers can be swept with a hand brush. 

Buildings

Gutters and trench drains need to be cleaned as the slope of the gutters and drains do not allow the ash to run off and the weight of the wet ash will put undue strain on the gutter bracket. To clean the roof, use a shovel to scrape ash off, especially if you’re working with a thick layer. Exercise caution when working on roofs as ash is slippery. 

General Cleaning of Volcanic Ash

Lightly dampen the ash to prevent it from billowing and sweep it up before rain, if possible. Remember that ash particles have sharp broken edges, making them very abrasive material.

To end on a positive note, volcanic ash often contains minerals that are beneficial to plants, and if it is very fine, it can break down quickly and fertilize the soil.

We also shared a blog on Barbados Volcanic Ash Tips click to view.

 

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