HONOLULU (KHON2) — Doctors and health officials are warning the public to be careful about gases and vog following the eruption of Mauna Loa.
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Dr. Samuel J. Evans, Chief of pulmonary medicine at Straub Medical Center, said its “the sulfur dioxide, the carbon dioxide and the ash itself that can act as an irritant in the airways. So, if you’re someone who already has an underlying lung condition like COPD or asthma, it can cause an exacerbation of symptoms bronchospasm, shortness of breath, coughing fits.”
Health officials recommend those with respiratory issues keep their medications and inhalers close by.
The National Weather Service suggests shutting your windows when there’s vog. “Most days, it’s going to be consistently, you know, upslope winds during the day. And then you get downslope winds during the night. So, we could see that vog kind of fill in each night. And, and over time, as this continues, you know, it’s only going to get probably denser and denser,” said Genki Kino, National Weather Service meteorologist.
Health experts say, being proactive will keep you safe. Dr. Evans said to check the air quality levels if you have access to the internet and “keep the windows and doors shut. Some people will even go so far as to put wet towels where the creases of the doors and windows are or tape them.”
“Another key thing to remember is if you use AC in the house or in the car to make sure it’s on the recirculate and not pulling in air from the outside.”Dr. Samuel J. Evans, Chief of pulmonary medicine at Straub Medical Center
They say now might be a good time to mask up, but some masks will work better than others. “You may want to stock up on N95 masks,” said Dr. Evans. “The regular kind of dust, nursing masks that we wear, our surgical mask is not going to be as effective at blocking the inhalation of that particulate matter.”
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The Hawaii Department of Health recommends reducing outdoor activities that could cause heavy breathing, drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated, and calling your doctor if any symptoms begin to develop.