A letter passing through offices in China lately warns against the dangers of the smoke from the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland:
Fwd: Avoid exposure to rain from today until the 28th.
Avoid exposure to rain from today until the 28th of the month. Every 750 years there is a major occurance of acid rain, and the probability of getting skin cancer high if one is exposed to it. The volcanic eruption in Europe has spewed a large amount of sulfides into the atmosphere, and a thick, strongly acidic layer of volcanic ash has collected at an altitude of 7000-10000 meters. Please take care to pass this information to those around you.
The note appears to be based on a similar rumor spread in parts of Africa in February and March. This is from The Punch, Nigerian newspaper, and is dated March 24, 2010:
A United Nations space chief, Mr. Takao Doi, has allayed fears of acid rain accompanying the current harmattan haze accross the country. . .
A text message circulating through mobile networks had warned that there could be acid rain in the country between March 20 and 28.
The text message said, “Be careful from the 20-28th of this month. There is the possibility of an acid rain. The dark circle appeared on 17th of last month and this is an indication of acid rain. Apparently this happens once in 750 years. It rains normally but it may cause skin cancer if you expose yourself to it. This information is from the National Space Agency in the United States.”
The “dark circle” supposedly appeared around the moon, but this part of the rumor was left out of the Chinese version. Other versions used “NASA” instead of “the National Space Agency in the United States.”