Mexican Volcano Spews Ash 3 Miles Into The Air

The most active volcano in Mexico, Popocatépetl, erupted Friday, Mexican officials said.  It sent a huge column of dark ash 3 miles into the sky, which prompted residents and tourists to stay away from the area.  Officials also warned that ash may fall in nearby towns. 

The Eruption Caused A Slight Earthquake

Popocatépetl, or "El Popo" to locals, which is located 43 miles southeast of Mexico City in the states of Pebla and Morelos, surprised residents when it recently erupted.  Just 24 hours after the eruption, Mexico officals reported 129 exaltations of ash, three explosions and one measurable earthquake, a magnitude-1.8 tremor.

Popocatépetl is the 2nd highest volcano in North America.  It is said to be around 730,000 years old.  The volcano has been silent for years, but ended its dormancy with an eruption in 1994.  Since then, the volcano's rumblings have been part of the residents' daily life.  The last eruption was in April 2016 and a total of 15 major eruptions since 1519. 

Mexico Officials Warn About The Health Effects Of Ash

Mexico's director of civil protection, Luis Felipe Puente, warned tourists to not go hiking on the mountain yet saying that ash could be dangerous.  He also said that people who live near the volcano should plan for falling ashes in the area and to take precautions.  Ashes can cause breathing problems, especially for children, and those with respiratory problems, like asthma.  Ashes have already fallen in two municipalities in Puebla state, officials confirmed. 

Volcanic ash inhalation could be very detrimental to health, not just for humans but also for plants and animals, because it contains aerosols and poisonous gases, like sulfur dioxide.  Aside from breathing problems, it could also cause eye problems, and skin irritation.  To prevent these, residents may wear dust masks and those with respiratory issues should either stay inside or evacuate.  

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