The UME detects peaks in toxic air levels on La Palma but sees no risk to the population


New lava mouth of the La Palma volcano.

New lava mouth of the La Palma volcano.
@ES_UCL, @UOBFlightLab, @unipa_it

After the arrival of the lava flow into the sea, the Military Emergency Unit (UME) has detected specific peaks in certain areas in which the air quality exceeds the required levels, which does not mean that there is currently a risk to the health of the population.

The lieutenant general assured it this Friday Luis Manuel Martínez Meijide, head of the UME, who has accompanied the Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles, during the videoconference he has held with personnel deployed in the framework of the volcanic operation ‘La Palma 2021’.

“Specifically, not only due to the toxic cloud but also to the winds, in a certain area the measurements have given peaks that exceed the limits but that then immediately have returned to normality,” explained the lieutenant general.

The head of the UME has specified that even the population perceived “as a smell of rotten eggs”, which is “an indication”, but has stressed that “what is important are the concentrations” of toxic gases.

It has recognized that the fact that at some point critical levels have been exceeded at one point does not mean that there is a risk to the population.

“At the moment the information we have is that the air is healthy although those sensations can be perceived momentarily, “he stressed.

In the same sense, the minister has stated when assuring that “there have been very specific peaks and at no time has there been a risk to health”, although she has warned that “it is not known how it will evolve” and how it will evolve. influence the wind.

“It is a very unpredictable emergency, because, in addition, each volcano is different, “said Robles.

The UME is collaborating with the civil experts in monitoring to have a map of what is happening with the toxic gases and to be able to alert the population and if later it became known that the air quality is worsening, the authorities would take the necessary measures , has assured the lieutenant general.

Most aggressive volcano

Air quality is what worries most at the moment although, as explained by this military man, volcanologists are evaluating the possibility that the behavior of the volcano is more aggressive.

To do this, they have a network of sensors, which the UME monitors every day to remove the ash that covers them and check their operation. Some of them can be reached by car, but others have to be walked.

Another concern of the UME is the risk of forest fires, since, according to Meijide, “there are favorable conditions” in all the Canaries and, especially, in La Palma.

The unit is prepared in case it had to intervene, although it has indicated that “probably” in the coming days the situation may change with the arrival of more humid winds.

Meijide has pointed out that it is not known what the evolution of the volcano will be, since there have been eruptions of three months and up to six years, such as the one that took place in Timanfaya (Lanzarote) during the 18th century.

“There is no indicator that tells us what the trend will be, we are long-distance runners and we are in a position to sustain and endure as long as necessary “, has indicated.

The minister lamented the “human drama” that no one could imagine and the “harsh” personal circumstances of people who have lost everything they have worked for during their lives.

“Let them know that they will always have the support of all Spanish society and that the Armed Forces and the UME will be there until it is necessary”, without “haggling any type of effort”, he stated.

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