TRINIDAD EXPRESS – Saint Lucia is renowned for rugged beauty. Serpentine roads tame lush tropical rainforests, serving stunning vistas at every turn. Visitors flock to the island’s south- eastern coast where the town of Soufrière sits nestled at the base of the iconic Pitons.
There, you find Sulphur Springs Park, a geothermal field with bubbling hot springs, mud pools and fumaroles.
While Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Saba, St Eustatius, St Kitts/Nevis and St Vincent and the Grenadines all have recorded volcanic activity, Sulphur Springs Park is often described as the world’s only drive-in volcano. But if you plan to be among the 200,000 who visit this unique destination every year, there are some potential health hazards you should not ignore.
Volcanic emissions are known to adversely affect human health, in particular, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, hydrogen chloride and sulphur dioxide. Among the more serious potential health effects are asphyxiation, vomiting, headache, dizziness, visual disturbances, respiratory irritation and bronchitis.
Sulphur dioxide, though colourless, has an irritating smell and can be hazardous to humans as it can form sulphuric acid on contact with membranes of the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract. Exposure to elevated levels of sulphur dioxide can cause coughing, burning of the eyes and difficulty breathing.