Hawaii Big Island Vog Index

Below is the information that the Hawaii County Civil Defense has been releasing about how they judge the Big Island Vog Index, and precautions to take, and other useful info. But first a account of what I have been seeing. To leave your comments, go to our vog blog. Or just go to our page on the vog.

You will find helpful hints about what to do when it is bad, and general information about where it is the worst and what it is made up of.

I have had requests for links to find current air quality, on the island. This link is one of the best I have found, but you need to download the plug ins. Any other questions or comments, I will post, and do my best to answer them.

To go to our Big Island Vog Index Blog follow this link.

To check current emission levels and wind speed around the summit, follow this link

Driving through Ocean View in Kau the other morning it was so thick you could not see the sun in parts, and in other parts the sun was just red. Although there have not been any days where the Big Island Vog Index reached purple, since April 8th, people are still advised to take precautions.

Stop what you're doing and get out. This was the order given to close to two thousand people at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, by the Hawaii County Civil Defense, as the Big Island Vog Index Reached code Purple on the morning of April 8th, 2008.

Code Purple is the most severe condition on the Big Island Vog Index with severe hazard to human health.

Ten Times the normal amount of sulfur dioxide has been being released into our air since Halemaumau erupted in March.

On April 8th conditions got so severe residents were even urged to evacuate.

Call 1--866-767-5044 For Todays Vog Index Report.



Protective Measures for your Health

To reduce the health impacts of the hazards of sulfur dioxide, ash fall and vog, the following protective measures are effective to reduce exposure to all three types of emissions, unless otherwise noted. These are general recommendations, about the Big Island Vog Index, from the American Lung Association of Hawai‘i and supported by the Department of Health:

• Stay indoors and use an air conditioner if available.

• Reduce flow of outdoor air into homes by closing doors and windows.

• Avoid outdoor physical exertion (especially important for the sensitive groups of children and individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, and chronic lung or heart disease).

• Contact your doctor as soon as possible if any problems develop, as respiratory conditions might deteriorate rapidly in heavy sulfur dioxide or vog conditions.

• Always keep medications on hand and readily available.

• For sulfur dioxide and vog only: Drink plenty of liquids; warm liquids seem to work best.

• For ash and vog only: Most residential air cleaners/air purifiers are designed for removing dust and particulates. Good air purifiers would be helpful to reduce particulates in the air (vog and ash). These types of air cleaners are not effective in removing gases such as sulfur dioxide. Be careful what you buy.

• For ash only: Avoid ash fallout.

• For ash only: Masks, damp cloths or damp handkerchiefs to cover your mouth and nose are useful when protecting yourself from ash fallout. (These measures are not effective in removing gases such as sulfur dioxide). Mask use is for temporary relief and is not recommended for extended use. If you find it difficult to breathe with a mask on, discontinue use.

SULFUR DIOXIDE INFORMATION: BIG ISLAND VOG INDEXCondition Recommended Response

GREEN (Trace) Sensitive Groups1: Highly sensitive individuals may be affected at these levels

Everyone else: Potential health effects not expected.

YELLOW (Light)

ORANGE (Moderate)

Sensitive Groups1: Avoid outdoor activity

Everyone else: Potential health effects not expected, however actions to reduce exposure to vog may be useful

Sensitive Groups1: Avoid outdoor activity and remain indoors

Everyone else: Potential health effects not expected, however actions to reduce exposure to vog may be useful

RED (High)

Sensitive Groups1: avoid outdoor activity and remain indoors People experiencing respiratory-related health effects: Consider leaving the area

Everyone else: Avoid outdoor activity

PURPLE (Extreme)

Sensitive Groups1: Avoid outdoor activity and remain indoors People experiencing respiratory-related health effects: Leave the area and seek medical help

Everyone: Leave the area if directed by Civil Defense

1 Sensitive Groups = children, and individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, lung or heart disease.

Emissions from Kilauea Volcano relative to Big Island Vog Index

Brief summary of hazards and protective measures March 2008

Recent changes in activity at Halema‘uma‘u crater at the Kilauea summit have created a potential increase of hazards for Hawai‘i Island. These hazards include higher levels of sulfur dioxide, ash fall, and vog. Government and private agencies are working together to monitor these hazards and provide you with the best and most reliable information so you can minimize the risk to you and your family. Key contact information: State Dept. of Health: 933-0917 Hilo 322-1507 Kona County Civil Defense: 935-0031

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)

From the beginning of this year (January 2008), sulfur dioxide emissions from Halema‘uma‘u crater started to increase. The increase was gradual and not of any real significance until March 11, when emissions increased greatly.

The major problem and the greatest danger of the emissions from the Halema‘uma‘u site is its close proximity to people. It is expected that any area down wind of the vent site of Halema‘uma‘u can expect SO2 levels to be higher than in previous years. The areas effected and the exposure levels are so very difficult to predict as they are almost totally dependent on weather conditions, primarily wind direction and wind speed, as well as the varying SO2 emission rate at Halema‘uma‘u Crater.

Health effects: Sulfur dioxide is irritating to the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract. Short-term exposure to elevated levels of SO2 may cause inflammation and irritation, resulting in burning of the eyes, coughing, difficulty in breathing and a feeling of chest tightness. “Sensitive groups” are children and those with preexisting respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, and chronic lung or heart disease. These people are especially sensitive to SO2 and may respond to very low levels in the air. Prolonged or repeated exposure to higher levels may be dangerous to children and persons with pre-existing respiratory conditions.

We have provided a color-coded condition/response table for your reference. These color codes will be used when information is released for the Big Island Vog Index on the current levels of SO2 at various sites.

Ash Fall

Volcanic ash is composed of fine particles that are being emitted from Halema‘uma‘u crater. This volcanic ash is cooled when it falls to the ground so heat is not a hazard factor in residential areas. Size of ash from this emission at Halema‘uma‘u varies from grit-like to fine like talcum powder. Residents of Ka’u describe it as “like dust.” Ash fall has recently been reported from the areas of Pahala and Na’alehu in Ka’u.

Health effects: The volcanic ash in the air comes in various sizes. In general, the larger particles will be carried longer distances. Fine particles will fall out closest to the source, and the finer particles will be carried longer distances. Fine particles of ash can be inhaled into the lungs and cause chest discomfort with increased coughing.

Common short-term symptoms may include coughing and irritation. People with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis are more prone to the adverse effects of the ash fallout.

Common symptoms include the following:

• Runny nose

• Sore throat

• Worsening of pre-existing respiratory conditions

• Difficulty in breathing Other potential health effects of exposure to ash may include eye and skin irritation.

Vog

“Vog” is a very familiar term used in Hawai‘i to describe the hazy conditions caused by volcanic emissions. Vog is the result of the gases being emitted into the air mixing with water vapor and very small particles, primarily sulfur compounds and sulfur dioxide. The SO2 in vog is greatest

near the sources (Halema‘uma‘u and Pu’u ‘O’o). SO2 levels generally are reduced at greater distances from the source. For example, although vog haze may be heavy in West Hawai‘i, the SO2 levels are typically very low due to the distance away from the source at Kilauea. Consequently, impacts of small particulates are of greater concern than SO2 in West Hawai‘i. In communities near Kilauea, SO2 emissions may be a greater concern than particulates (vog).

Health effects: Health effects from vog exposure vary greatly among individuals. People with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis are more prone to the adverse effects of the vog. Common symptoms related to Big Island Vog Indexinclude the following:

• Headaches

• Breathing difficulties

• Increased susceptibility to respiratory ailments

• Watery eyes

• Sore throat

Emergency Plans

As a precautionary measure, family emergency plans should be developed so you will be prepared in the event winds carry higher levels of sulfur dioxide, ash, and/or vog into your neighborhood. A family emergency plan should include the following:

• A plan on leaving the area – this could be if evacuation is recommended, or if you are feeling health effects and make your own decision to go to a different area.

• A plan to secure your home, business, and property.

• Preparation of an evacuation kit.

• Plans for the care of your pets. All household members should be familiar with the emergency plan.


To go back to our Volcano page click here

To go to our page on Kilauea, follow this link.

To go to our page on recent activity of Big Island volcanoes, fololow this link