Acute effects of volcanic ash from Mount Saint Helens on lung function in children

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1983 Jun;127(6):714-9. doi: 10.1164/arrd.1983.127.6.714.


To evaluate the acute effects of volcanic ash from Mt. St. Helens on the lung function of children, we studied 101 children 8 to 13 yr of age who were attending a 2-wk summer camp for children with diabetes mellitus in an area where about 1.2 cm of ash had fallen after the June 12, 1980, eruption. The outcome variables used were forced vital capacity, forced expiratory volume in one second, their ratio and mean transit time. Total and respirable dust levels were measured using personal sampling pumps. The children were tested on arrival and twice (early morning [A.M.] and late afternoon [P.M.]) every second or third day during the session. A within-day effect was measured by the P.M./A.M. ratio for the lung function variables; a between-day effect was measured by the change in the P.M. measurements over the 2 wk of camp. We found no strong evidence of either a within-day or a between-day effect on lung function, even in a subgroup of children who had preexisting lung disease or symptoms, despite daytime dust/ash levels that usually exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency's significant harm level for particulate matter.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Disasters*
  • Dust / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Male
  • Oregon
  • Time Factors
  • Vital Capacity


  • Dust