Web­site of­fers ad­vice for cop­ing with vog

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - By Ti­mothy Hur­ley thur­ley@starad­ver­tiser.com

Vog. For many in Hawaii a bad episode of vol­canic smog can mean a mis­er­able day of cough­ing, a runny nose, a sore throat and headaches.

But now there’s a new web por­tal where any­one who feels vul­ner­a­ble — res­i­dent or vis­i­tor — can go for fore­casts, ad­vi­sories, in­for­ma­tion and ad­vice.

Devel­oped by a coali­tion of state, fed­eral and pri­vate agen­cies, the Vog Dash­board web­site in­cludes the lat­est sci­en­tific in­for­ma­tion about vog as well as some new rec­om­men­da­tions for how to pro­tect your­self.

The ad­vice fol­lows a three-month study con­ducted last year on Hawaii is­land by Claire Hor­well, di­rec­tor of the In­ter­na­tional Vol­canic Health Hazard Net­work and a re­searcher at Durham Univer­sity in the United King­dom.

“Pro­vid­ing rel­e­vant, upto-date in­for­ma­tion to a pop­u­la­tion liv­ing with decades of an on­go­ing vol­canic erup­tion may help peo­ple to bet­ter cope with the fre­quent vog con­di­tions,” Hor­well said.

Ki­lauea has been erupt­ing now for 34 years straight. But when the Hale­mau­mau vent erupted in 2008, the emis­sions shot up from an aver­age of 2,000 tons a day to 10,000, said Ta­mar Elias, a sci­en­tist with the U.S. Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey’s Hawai­ian Vol­cano Ob­ser­va­tory.

While the emis­sions have backed off since then, the vol­cano is still belch­ing out be­tween 4,000 and 5,000 tons a day, Elias said.

When the tradewinds are blow­ing, usu­ally only the ar­eas south­west of Ki­lauea Vol­cano’s ac­tive vents ex­pe­ri­ence vog as a vis­i­ble haze or as a sul­furous smell or taste.

But when the trades are miss­ing, as they can be most of­ten dur­ing win­ter months, the en­tire state can be en­veloped in the nasty mix­ture of sul­fur diox­ide and fine par­tic­u­lates.

The Na­tional Weather Ser­vice on Fri­day was pre­dict­ing that the wind would turn south­east­erly Mon­day through Wed­nes­day, mak­ing all of the is­lands po­ten­tially sus­cep­ti­ble to vog.

Dur­ing her study, Hor­well held a se­ries of fo­cus groups and sur­veyed 146 Hawaii is­land res­i­dents. Some of her find­ings:

>> Ninety-six per­cent of those sur­veyed no­ticed the vog, many at least a few times per week. Most no­tice it as a vis­i­ble haze, but peo­ple nearer the vol­cano also smell and taste it as well as ex­pe­ri­ence symp­toms.

>> Eighty-two per­cent be­lieved they suf­fered from the symp­toms caused by the vog but also

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