Volcanic ashes can threaten the human respiratory system through inhalation. In this study we investigated the physical and chemical characteristics of volcanic ashes from the Pomici di Avellino (PdA) eruption, an Early Bronze Age (ca. 3.9 ka) Plinian event from Somma-Vesuvius volcano, southern Italy, whose wide dispersal affected most of the Italian peninsula. In particular, we analysed particle size, shape, composition, and surface reactivity of samples from both proximal and distal locations. Our results indicate that some tephra layers north of Rome have a phonolitic composition and match that of PdA eruption; they reach grain-sizes <2 mu m (similar to 13.5%), thus having the potential to enter the deep respiratory system. Furthermore, the reactivity in free radical generation makes these products potentially able to cause oxidative stress within cells. While commonly no volcanic hazard assessment is made in areas far from active volcanoes, this study highlights that fine ashes from future similar large eruptions, producing high amount of highly fragmented material, can pose a health hazard even in remote, non-volcanic areas, hundreds of km away from the vent, suggesting that further studies on ash toxicity (e.g., in vitro toxicity studies) are required.

Physical and chemical characterization of the Pomici di Avellino ashes (3.9 ka) from Somma-Vesuvius volcano for future health hazard assessment

Monaco, L.;Sulpizio, R.;Zanchetta, G.;
2023-01-01

Abstract

Volcanic ashes can threaten the human respiratory system through inhalation. In this study we investigated the physical and chemical characteristics of volcanic ashes from the Pomici di Avellino (PdA) eruption, an Early Bronze Age (ca. 3.9 ka) Plinian event from Somma-Vesuvius volcano, southern Italy, whose wide dispersal affected most of the Italian peninsula. In particular, we analysed particle size, shape, composition, and surface reactivity of samples from both proximal and distal locations. Our results indicate that some tephra layers north of Rome have a phonolitic composition and match that of PdA eruption; they reach grain-sizes <2 mu m (similar to 13.5%), thus having the potential to enter the deep respiratory system. Furthermore, the reactivity in free radical generation makes these products potentially able to cause oxidative stress within cells. While commonly no volcanic hazard assessment is made in areas far from active volcanoes, this study highlights that fine ashes from future similar large eruptions, producing high amount of highly fragmented material, can pose a health hazard even in remote, non-volcanic areas, hundreds of km away from the vent, suggesting that further studies on ash toxicity (e.g., in vitro toxicity studies) are required.
2023
Fernandez, G.; Giaccio, B.; Monaco, L.; Tomatis, M.; Pacella, A.; Palladino, D. M.; Sulpizio, R.; Turci, F.; Zanchetta, G.; Ballirano, P.; Sottili, G.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11568/1223568
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