HONOLULU (KHON2) — With another eruption of the Kīlauea volcano comes the possibility of vog. Many people, especially those on Hawaii island, are familiar with the gasses — which can cause some health problems.
Vog stands for volcanic smog. It is made up of gasses, including sulfur dioxide.
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“Vog is tiny, tiny, tiny little droplets of sulfuric acid. And as you can imagine, that’s not a great thing to breathe in. And it’s not so good for plants,” said Scott Rowland, University of Hawaii Manoa earth science specialist.
According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), vog can aggravate pre-existing respiratory conditions in some folks. These can include:
- Increased susceptibility to respiratory ailments
- Difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
- Flu-like symptoms
- Lack of energy
Sulfur dioxide gas can also irritate the skin and cause watery eyes. When there is heavy vog, it can reduce visibility and make it difficult to drive.
“Well, certainly vog is a nuisance and it’s quite annoying and threatening to the health of people who already have compromised breathing, bronchitis and asthma and things like that,” Rowland said.
Typical trade wind patterns bring vog past Na’alehu, and then it is blown back onshore into the Kona districts. Certain conditions have brought vog to Maui County, Oahu and Kauai in past years.
A University of Hawaii vog forecast can be found here.
“For us to get it here on Oahu, we would need the trade winds to die down, and we need, we would need Kona winds,” Rowland said.
Fortunately, experts said vog is not a big issue just yet.
“Certainly the vog will be greater than it is than it was yesterday. But it doesn’t look like, at least at the moment, that it’s going to be a lot if all if this persists, then that could certainly change,” Rowland said.
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The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will remain open, but for those who have a history of respiratory problems:
“Please proceed with caution. You know, folks with heavy breathing, respiratory issues — stay far away as possible.” Hawaii County Spokesperson Cyrus Johnasen said.