Website offers advice for coping with vog
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