On the agenda - Volcano ash 'not a serious health risk'

In a nutshell The UK public was reassured that ash from a volcano that erupted last week did not pose a serious health risk. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) issued a statement to inform the public that they were safe after the ash, produced by a volcanic eruption under Eyjafjallajoekull glacier in south west Iceland, spread over the UK.

Volcanic ash: health concerns [Getty]
Volcanic ash: health concerns [Getty]

- What did the HPA say?

The HPA advised that the plume of volcanic ash trapped in the atmosphere above the UK was not a significant risk to public health. It stressed that any concentration of particles that reached the ground were likely to be low and should not cause serious harm.

- Why was the statement released?

Ash can pose a dangerous health risk if inhaled. The HPA also put out the statement after all flights in and out of the UK and several European countries were suspended. Experts warned that tiny particles of rock, glass and sand contained in the ash cloud could be sufficient to stall aircraft engines.

- PR strategy

The HPA Centre for radiation, chemical and environmental hazards sent the statement to the Press Association, the BBC and other national outlets, as well as partner agencies including the Department of Health and the Met Office. Professor Robert Maynard was offered as a spokesman.

- Media coverage

The BBC News website ran the statement as its lead story. Broadcast coverage included mentions on BBC News and Sky News.

200 years since Eyjafjallajoekull last erupted

800 residents were evacuated from the area by the glacier

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