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A volcano is a vent in the Earth's crust. Hot rock, steam, poisonous gases, and ash reach the Earth's surface when a volcano erupts. An eruption can also cause earthquakes, mudflows and flash floods, rock falls and landslides, acid rain, fires, and even tsunamis.

Volcanic gas and ash can damage the lungs of small infants, older adults, and people with severe respiratory illnesses. Volcanic ash can affect people hundreds of miles away from the eruption.

Although there are no guarantees of safety during a volcanic eruption, you can take actions to protect yourself. You should have a disaster plan. Being prepared can help reduce fear, anxiety, and losses. If you do experience a disaster, it is normal to feel stressed. You may need help in finding ways to cope.

Federal Emergency Management Agency


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  • Lung problems and volcanic smog (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
  • (National Weather Service) - PDF
  • (U.S. Geological Survey)
  • (American Red Cross)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Department of Homeland Security)
  • (U.S. Geological Survey) Also in
  • (Federal Emergency Management Agency) - PDF Also in

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)