VII. Volcanoes and human societies  

VII.5 Health roles in volcanic crises: looking back, looking forward.

Peter J Baxter, University of Cambridge, UK; pjb21@medschl.cam.ac.uk
Claire J Horwell, Durham University, UK; Claire.horwell@durham.ac.uk
David Damby, US Geological Survey, USA; david.damby@gmail.com

Health studies of volcanic eruptions and emissions first began at the Mount St Helens eruption in 1980 and included investigation of the causes of death and injury, as well as the respiratory effects of human exposure to volcanic ash, in this transformative event.  Appropriately, at this meeting being held in the Pacific North-west over 35 years later, we have an opportunity to take stock of the advances that have taken place since then, almost all inevitably linked to a few notable eruptions in populated areas with the potential to affect human health. In the future, a more co-ordinated, multi-disciplinary and better funded approach will be needed to successfully garner data for our evidence base and to be able to provide timely advice to anxious communities in volcanic crises of all types.    International health agencies and the health sector of countries in every crisis should be involved in pre-eruption hazard and risk assessment, as well as emergency planning and response, including long- term epidemiological studies where feasible.  Contributions are welcome on lessons learnt and new ways forward in health interventions in volcanic crises.