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Risk to livestock from volcanic ash ‘currently low’

April 16, 2010

[Source: Farmers Weekly Interactive]

Ash from Icelandic volcanos drifts over the countryside and throughout northern Europe. (Photo by Olaf Reggertsson/Reuters)

Ash from the volcanic eruption in Iceland has started falling on farmland in Scotland, but farmers are being told that the risk to animal welfare appears low.

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday (Apr 15) finance minister John Swinney said there was no indication that ash should cause alarm to farmers.

“We had an update from the livestock sector; there are no anticipated concerns at this stage,” he said.

“The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment is in touch with the livestock and agriculture sectors to ensure that the issues are kept under active review.”

A spokeswoman from NFU Scotland said the organisation was keeping a eye on the situation because of the risks that volcanic ash could cause to livestock.

“We have spoken to our colleagues in Shetland this morning, who have advised us that there is a light film of dust on some cars, but that the risk of animal welfare is currently low.

“We shall keep in close contact with the Scottish Government and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and will advise our members accordingly if the situation does indeed worsen,” she said.

The Health Protection Agency has said the ash is not expected to be a significant threat to public health.

However, it has warned people in affected areas that they may wish to limit their activities outdoors.

“It is important to stress that the concentration of particles which may reach ground level is likely to be low and should not cause serious harm.

“If people are outside this evening and notice symptoms such as itchy or irritated eyes, runny nose, sore throat or dry cough, or if they notice a dusty haze in the air or can smell sulphur, rotten eggs, or a strong acidic smell, they may wish to limit their activities outdoors or return indoors.

“Those with existing respiratory conditions such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma may notice these effects more than others and should ensure they have any inhalers or other medications with them.”

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