Fears Raised Over Toxic Gas as Lava Reaches Sea on La Palma

A river of lava cascaded into the Atlantic Ocean from Spain’s La Palma island on Wednesday, September 29, releasing plumes of ash and steam and raising fears of toxic gasses that can be damaging to humans.

The Guardia Civil, one of Spain’s two national police forces, warned people living within 2 miles (3.2km) of the site to stay in their homes due to the threat of “harmful gasses and explosions.”

According to British volcanologist and writer Dr Robin George Andrews, when lava meets water “a plume of hydrochloric acid, glassy ash and steam” called ‘laze’ is produced that can damage eyes, skin, and respiratory systems.

This footage taken on Wednesday shows dense, dark clouds of ash being carried by winds, and steam rising from where the lava meets the sea.

The Council of La Palma on Wednesday said the eruption had not yet affected air quality, and assured people it was "perfectly breathable. Emergency officials said the air was being continuously monitored for the presence of harmful gases.

Since September 19, the eruption had forced the evacuation of at least 5,000 people and destroyed around 500 buildings on the island, local media reported.

The damage to infrastructure was estimated to be more than €20 million, according to official reports. Credit: Idafe.com via Storyful

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