Volcanic Ash and Gas Impacts & Mitigation

Volcanic-ash hazards are far reaching and disruptive, affecting more people, infrastructure, and daily activities than any other eruptive phenomena.
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This web encyclopedia provides information on the impacts of volcanic ash and mitigation strategies for dealing with them. Content is summarized from expert and peer-reviewed sources.

  • Use 'Choose Topic' in the header or the left menu to find information categorized by affected sector.
  • Posters and booklets in a range of languages are available in Resources.
  • Technical guidance for scientists undertaking ash studies is presented in the For Scientists section.
  • Do you have technical information or images you'd like to contribute to this Web site? New case studies and well documented experiences are valuable, and we welcome your contributions. Please Contact Us if you have information to add or questions.

Key Actions for Everyone in an Ashfall

If ashfall is forecast:
  • Go home, if possible, to avoid travelling in ashy conditions.
  • If you or any members of your family have respiratory or heart conditions, keep your reliever and preventer medications handy and use as prescribed. If you have any concerns, call your doctor.
  • Move pets indoors.
  • Move vehicles and machinery under cover or cover them with a tarpaulin. Disconnect downpipes from roof catchment rainwater tanks to keep ash out.
While ash is falling:
  • Stay indoors.
  • Keep ash out of the house by keeping doors and windows shut. Shut down heat pumps and air conditioning units that draw outdoor air into the house.
  • If outside, seek shelter (e.g. in a car or building).
  • If exposed to ashfall, use a mask or cloth over the nose and mouth to help avoid inhaling ash. If possible, wear glasses instead of contact lenses as ash trapped behind lenses can damage your eyes.
  • Do not overload phone networks with non-emergency calls.
  • Seek information from official channels and follow any instructions from authorities.
After ash has stopped falling:
  • If there is ash in your water, let it settle and then use the clear water. Water contaminated by ash will usually make drinking water unpalatable before it presents a health risk.
  • You may eat vegetables from the garden, but wash them first.


If a volcanic eruption is forecast or ash has fallen in your area, follow the advice of your local Civil Defense or Emergency Management officials.