As the volcanic ash from Iceland continues to clog the air over the UK and beyond, there have been some reports of ash particles falling to the ground. So could this mean potential health risks? Do we need to keep children indoors? And what about children with conditions such as asthma?
Dr Mike Smith is one of the UK's most well known doctors and media spokesperson on health issues. He's a highly experienced GP, and this is his expert advice for any families worried about the dangers of volcanic ash.
Should we be worried about any threat to our children's health because of the volcanic ash?
There have been some highly sensational reports in the press around the potential health hazards. It is important to remember that previous studies have shown that the type of dust created by volcanic eruptions is not in the same harmful category as, for example, industrial work-place dusts were in the past. Noxious chemicals have not been found to be present so far in the ash that has fallen.
Should any real risk develop to a child's health, the Department of Health will issue a warning. For the time being, I feel able to say 'most probably not' – there is no need for parents to worry.
What about children with asthma – should they be taking any other precautions?
None are specifically suggested at present.
Do you have any further tips for parents?
Yes. My first recommendation is to stop worrying. The anxiety of worrying far outweighs the physical risks.
Should visible dust appear in your area, however, it is important to remember that the nose is the first line of defence against dust entering the lungs. The tiny hairs and mildly sticky secretions in our noses are specially designed to stop dust. To make sure that nasal passages are clear and able to function and filter effectively, I recommend Sterimar, a pure and natural sea water nasal spray. Suitable for children over 3 months it gently and effectively cleans and moisturises the nose to ensure that it is functioning naturally.