MAUNA LOA, Hawaii (KHON2) — The USGS was at the summit of Mauna Loa Monday collecting information to update things such as flow maps and vog dispersion models.
According to the Mauna Kea Weather Center’s website, vog is expected to impact Hilo, Hamakua and Kohala districts. They warn that air quality may change rapidly as it deteriorates throughout the day.
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According to the vog dispersion model, moderate vog is expected to hit Maui Monday night and Oahu Tuesday morning. Unhealthy vog could impact Maui County early Tuesday morning. Hazardous vog looks likely to remain in the Big Island’s northern district and around summit areas.
Vog is mostly made up of sulfur dioxide gas and sulfate aerosol. The haze that we associate with vog can become thicker depending on the levels of emission from the volcanoes and weather conditions.
“People should be proactive and make sure they have their medications and inhalers on-hand. Try to stay inside if the air quality is bad,” said Dr. Samuel J. Evans, Chief of Pulmonary Medicine, Straub Medical Center and Hawaii Pacific Health. “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.”
Air quality can be checked on the Department of Health’s air quality website. Toggling to sulfur dioxide, or SO2, on the menu will show the contaminant that is most concerning with vog. The levels are updated every hour.
More information about vog can be accessed on the Interagency Vog Information Dashboard’s website.
The following actions, provided by the Hawaii Department of Health, are precautionary measures:
- Reduce outdoor activities that cause heavy breathing. Avoiding outdoor activity and exercise during vog conditions can reduce exposure and minimize health risks. This is especially important for sensitive groups such as children, the elderly, and individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions including asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic lung and heart disease.
- People with asthma or a chronic respiratory disease should always have medications available. Daily prescribed medications should be taken on schedule.
- People experiencing health effects should contact their medical provider as soon as possible if any symptoms develop, as respiratory conditions might worsen rapidly in heavy sulfur dioxide or vog conditions.
- Stay indoors and close windows and doors. If an air conditioner is used, set it to recirculate. If you need to move out of an impacted area, turn on the car’s air conditioner and set it to recirculate.
- Face masks (surgical, cloth, KF94, KN95, N95) do not provide protection from sulfur dioxide or vog. However, they can be effective in outdoor environments in reducing inhaled hazardous particulates associated with falling ash and Pele’s hair.
- Do not smoke and avoid second-hand smoke.
- Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
Residents should assume that asthma can worsen with vog and should seek medical assistance, if necessary.