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Iceland Farmers try to Save Herds from Toxic Ash

April 19, 2010
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According to the Associated Press, farmers across the region where the volcano erupted under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier have been scrambling to protect their herds from inhaling or ingesting the ash, which can cause internal bleeding, long-term bone damage and teeth loss. Near Skogar, south of the volcano, the ash blew down from the mountain, blotting out the sunlight and covering everything in a thick, gray paste. Dairy farmers teamed up with neighbors to round up cattle and get them to shelter. The risk of fluoride poisoning, led farmers to drive around searching for some of the animals that got lost in the fog of ash. The fluoride in the ash creates acid in the animals'' stomachs, corroding the intestines and causing hemorrhages. It also binds with calcium in the blood stream. And after heavy exposure over a period of days it makes bones frail, and even causes teeth to crumble. In Iceland''s rural region near the volcano, the amount of ash is becoming overwhelming. The vast majority of the country''s farming activity is based on herding cattle, horses and sheep, so the stakes are high for the farmers. It''s lambing season, if the ash hits a sheep farm, the survival of spring lambs would be uncertain.

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