As the lava flow from Kilauea volcano on Hawai‘i Island continues and southerly winds occasionally prevail, vog conditions and the presence of sulfur dioxide (SO₂) in the air may increase and fluctuate in various areas of the state. While these intermittent conditions do not pose a public health threat in areas beyond the evacuation zone, they have raised concerns about respiratory health and questions about precautionary actions.
The Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) is encouraging residents and visitors to access the Hawaii Interagency Vog Information Dashboard at www.ivhhn.org/vog/ for the most comprehensive and up-to-date online information on vog and SO₂ from volcanic activity in Hawaii. DOH is also working on positioning additional SO₂ and particulate monitoring equipment around the eruption site. Once the equipment is up and running, DOH air quality data from the site will become available online for the public.
The result of a partnership with the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network (IVHHN), County of Hawai‘i, state and federal agencies, the Vog Information Dashboard provides complete, clear and current information on the health effects of vog, how to protect yourself, vog and wind forecasts, air quality, water catchment systems, acid rain, air purifiers, and advice for visitors. This one-stop-shop includes all relevant information in nine primary areas of interest.
The site also provides a friendly community forum for questions and discussion about vog and SO₂ at Vog Talk. Go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/VogTalk/about/ to submit a question or join an online group discussion. Vog Talk is a public forum for people to share their stories, concerns and useful information about vog and its impacts.
Hawai‘i residents and visitors are advised to be prepared and aware of the surrounding conditions, and how they feel or may react to vog in the air. In the event of vog conditions, the following precautionary measures are advised:
- 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.
- Stay indoors and close windows and doors. If an air conditioner is used, set it to recirculate.
- Always keep medications on hand and readily available. Daily prescribed medications, should be taken on schedule and may provide protection from the effects of sulfur dioxide.
- Contact a doctor as soon as possible if any health problems develop.
- Do not smoke and avoid second-hand smoke.
- Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
- Have family emergency plans prepared and ready.
- Heed warnings by county and state emergency management officials.
The Interagency Vog Dashboard is a partnership between the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network (Durham University, UK), Hawai‘i State Department of Health, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense, the National Park Service, County of Hawaiʻi (Mayor’s Office), CSAV (University of Hawaiʻi) and the US Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency.