Volcanic emissions and human health

I am interested in natural mineral particles and their impacts on human health. During my PhD, I helped devise a widely-used protocol for ash sample analysis during a study on the human health impacts from the eruption of Rabaul volcano, Papua New Guinea1. The results were published in a WHO-commissioned report assessing the potential health implications, and were consequently used in policy-forming and decision making by authorities in Papua New Guinea.

Since 2009, I have been co-investigator on a number of projects investigating the potential health implications from exposure to ash and aerosol emissions during volcanic events, with leading researchers on the human health impacts from volcanic ash. I have been involved in characterising various volcanic rock and ash samples, from a wide range of volcanoes, for example Soufrière Hills volcano (Montserrat)2,3, Vesuvius (Italy)4, Villarrica (Chile)5 and Chaitén (Chile). I worked on the ash samples from the 2010-2012 eruptions at Eyjafjallajökull6 and Grímsvötn, and in 2015 on samples from Bárðarbunga in Iceland.

Most recently, I have been working with Dr Evgenia Ilyinskaya (University of Leeds) on the ‘Unseen but not unfelt: resilience to persistent volcanic emissions’ (UNRESP) project based at Masaya volcano in Nicaragua (GCRF-funded). Follow the progress of the project at http://UNRESP.wordpress.com, and on Twitter at @UNRESPproject.

1Le Blond, J.S., Horwell, C.J., Baxter, P.J., Michnowicz, S.A.K., Tomatis, M., Fubini, B., Delmelle, P., Dunster, C., Patia, H. 2010. Mineralogical analyses and in vitro screening tests for the rapid evaluation of the health hazard of volcanic ash at Rabaul volcano, Papua New Guinea, Bulletin of Volcanology, 72:1077-1092.

2Horwell, C.J., Williamson, B.J., Donaldson, K., Le Blond, J.S. et al. 2012. The structure-toxicity relationship for volcanic crystalline silica; relevance for the variable silica hazard. Part Fibre Toxicol, 9:44, DOI: 10.1186/1743-8977-9-44.

3Horwell, C.J., Williamson, B.J., Llewellin, E.W., Damby, D.E., Le Blond, J.S. 2013. The nature and formation of cristobalite at the Soufrière Hills volcano, Montserrat: implications for the petrology and stability of silicic lava domes. Bull Volcanol, 75(3):696, doi: 10.2007/s00445-013-0696-3.

4Horwell, C.J., Stannett, G.W., Andronico, D., Bertagnini, A., Fenoglio, I., Fubini, B., Le Blond, J.S. et al. 2010 . A physico-chemical assessment of the health hazard of Mt. Vesuvius volcanic ash. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 191(3-4 ), 222-232, doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2010.01.014

5Sawyer, G.M., Salerno, G.G., Le Blond, J.S. et al. 2011. Gas and aerosol emissions from Villarrica volcano, Chile. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research , 203(1-2 ), 62-75, doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2011.04.003

6Ilyinskaya, E., Tsanev, V.P., Martin, R.S., Oppenheimer, C., Le Blond, J.S. 2011. Near-source observations of aerosol size distributions in the eruptive plumes from Eyjafjallajökull volcano, March-April 2010. Atmos Environ, 45(18):3210-3216.