skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Development of a multidisciplinary plan for evaluation of the long-term health effects of the Mount St. Helens eruptions

Abstract

The emphasis of this article is on the approach that was taken to evaluating the chronic or delayed effects of the volcanic eruptions of Mount St. Helens in 1980. This strategy has been very successful and may be useful as a model for addressing the possible health effects of other environmental hazards. The steps in this process were: 1) identification of the physical and physicochemical characteristics of the hazard; 2) formation of hypotheses about biologically plausible effects of the hazard on human health; and 3) development of a plan for evaluating the health effects and, were possible, for controlling or minimizing adverse health effects. The third step involved a multidisciplinary group that included public health officials, medical specialists, and research scientists, including a geologist.

Authors:
; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oregon Health Sciences Univ., Portland
OSTI Identifier:
7193309
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Volume: 76:3
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
63 RADIATION, THERMAL, AND OTHER ENVIRON. POLLUTANT EFFECTS ON LIVING ORGS. AND BIOL. MAT.; 99 GENERAL AND MISCELLANEOUS//MATHEMATICS, COMPUTING, AND INFORMATION SCIENCE; 54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; VOLCANOES; HEALTH HAZARDS; AIR POLLUTION; ASHES; CHEMICAL COMPOSITION; CHRONIC EXPOSURE; ERUPTION; EVALUATION; HUMAN POPULATIONS; LATENCY PERIOD; MT ST HELENS; PHYSICAL PROPERTIES; PLANNING; PUBLIC HEALTH; CASCADE MOUNTAINS; FEDERAL REGION X; HAZARDS; MOUNTAINS; NORTH AMERICA; POLLUTION; POPULATIONS; RESIDUES; USA; WASHINGTON; 560400* - Other Environmental Pollutant Effects; 552000 - Public Health; 500200 - Environment, Atmospheric- Chemicals Monitoring & Transport- (-1989)

Citation Formats

Buist, A.S., Martin, T.R., Shore, J.H., Butler, J., and Lybarger, J.A. Development of a multidisciplinary plan for evaluation of the long-term health effects of the Mount St. Helens eruptions. United States: N. p., 1986. Web. doi:10.2105/AJPH.76.Suppl.39.
Buist, A.S., Martin, T.R., Shore, J.H., Butler, J., & Lybarger, J.A. Development of a multidisciplinary plan for evaluation of the long-term health effects of the Mount St. Helens eruptions. United States. doi:10.2105/AJPH.76.Suppl.39.
Buist, A.S., Martin, T.R., Shore, J.H., Butler, J., and Lybarger, J.A. 1986. "Development of a multidisciplinary plan for evaluation of the long-term health effects of the Mount St. Helens eruptions". United States. doi:10.2105/AJPH.76.Suppl.39.
@article{osti_7193309,
title = {Development of a multidisciplinary plan for evaluation of the long-term health effects of the Mount St. Helens eruptions},
author = {Buist, A.S. and Martin, T.R. and Shore, J.H. and Butler, J. and Lybarger, J.A.},
abstractNote = {The emphasis of this article is on the approach that was taken to evaluating the chronic or delayed effects of the volcanic eruptions of Mount St. Helens in 1980. This strategy has been very successful and may be useful as a model for addressing the possible health effects of other environmental hazards. The steps in this process were: 1) identification of the physical and physicochemical characteristics of the hazard; 2) formation of hypotheses about biologically plausible effects of the hazard on human health; and 3) development of a plan for evaluating the health effects and, were possible, for controlling or minimizing adverse health effects. The third step involved a multidisciplinary group that included public health officials, medical specialists, and research scientists, including a geologist.},
doi = {10.2105/AJPH.76.Suppl.39},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = 76:3,
place = {United States},
year = 1986,
month = 3
}
  • The Centers for Disease Control in collaboration with affected state and local health departments, clinicians, and private institutions carried out a compulsive epidemiologic evaluation of mortality and morbidity associated with volcanic activity following the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. Excession morbidity were limited to transient increases to emergency room visits and hospital admissions for troumatic injuries and respiratory problems. Excessive mortality due to suffocation (76%) thermal injuries (12%), or trauma (12%) by ash and other volcanic hazards was directly proportional to the degree of environmental damage. De novo appearance of asthma was not observed, but excess adverse respiratory effectsmore » were observed in persons with preexisting respiratory disease and in heavy smokers. The volcanic ash had a mild to moderate fibrogenic potential. Community exposures to resuspended ash only transiently exceeded health limits normally applied to entire working lifetime exposures to free silica. There were no excessive exposures to toxic metals, fibrous minerals, organic chemicals, radon, or toxic gases of volcanic origin in community water supplies on air.« less
  • This investigation has shown that crystalline silica has been identified as being present in the Mount St. Helens volcanic ash at levels of 3 to 7 per cent by weight. This identification has been established using X-ray powder diffraction, infrared spectrophotometry, visible spectrophotometry, electron microscopy, and Laser Raman spectrophometry. Quantitative analysis by IR, XRD, and visible spectrophotometry requires a preliminary phosphoric acid digestion of the ash sample to remove the plagioclase silicate material which interferes with the determination by these methods. Electron microscopic analysis as well as Laser Raman spectrophotometric analysis of the untreated ash confirms the presence of silicamore » and at levels found by the XRD and IR analysis of the treated samples. An interlaboratory study of volcanic ash samples by 15 laboratories confirms the presence and levels of crystalline silica. Although several problems with applying the digestion procedure were observed in this hastily organized study, all laboratories employed the digestion procedure reported the presence of crystalline silica. These results unequivocally put to rest the question of the presence of silica in the volcanic ash from eruptions of Mount St. Helens in 1980.« less
  • The effects of Ritzville sandy loam soil and Mount St. Helens volcanic ash particles on the lung and mediastinal lymph nodes of Fischer rats were studied about 400 days after intratracheal instillation. A total of 22 or 77 mg of soil or ash was given in two or seven equally divided, consecutive, weekly intervals as a suspension in 0.5 ml saline. Significantly elevated levels of lipid-phosphorus and protein were found in lung lavages of rats given ash compared to those given soil. An enhanced histological degree of granulomatous reactivity, lipoproteinosis, fibrosis, and bronchiolar hyperplasia was seen in ash-exposed rats asmore » compared to soil-exposed rats. Mediastinal lymph nodes of ash-exposed rats were 8-18 times larger than those of soil-exposed rats due to abundant cellular microgranuloma formation and early fibrosis. Mount St. Helens volcanic ash is apparently more biologically reactive than soil particles commonly found in eastern Washington.« less
  • Mount St. Helens has been more active and more explosive during the last 4500 years than any other volcano in the conterminous United States. Eruptions of that period repeatedly formed domes, large volumes of pumice, hot pyroclastic flows, and during the last 2500 years, lava flows. Some of this activity resulted in mudflows that extended tens of kilometers down the floors of valleys that head at the volcano. This report describes the nature of these phenomena and their threat to people and property; the accompanying maps show areas likely to be affected by future eruptions of Mount St. Helens. Explosivemore » eruptions that produce large volumes of pumice affect large areas because winds can carry the lightweight material hundreds of kilometers from the volcano. Because of prevailing winds, the 180/sup 0/ sector east of the volcano will be affected most often and most severely by future eruptions of this kind. However, the pumice from any one eruption probably will fall in only a small part of that sector. Pyroclastic flows and mudflows also can affect areas far from the volcano, but the areas they affect are smaller because they follow valleys. Mudflows and possibly pyroclastic flows moving rapidly down Swift and Pine Creeks could displace water in Swift Reservoir, which could cause disastrous floods farther downvalley.« less
  • The monitoring of gas emissions from Mount St. Helens includes daily airborne measurements of sulfur dioxide in the volcanic plume and monthly sampling of gases from crater fumaroles. The composition of the fumarolic gases has changed slightly since 1980: the water content increased from 90 to 98 percent, and the carbon dioxide concentrations decreased from about 10 to 1 percent. The emission rates of sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide were at their peak during July and August 1980, decreased rapidly in late 1980, and have remained low and decreased slightly through 1981 and 1982. These patterns suggest steady outgassing ofmore » a single batch of magma has been added since mid-1980. The gas data were useful in predicting eruptions in August 1980 and June 1981.« less