Important Information about VOG

This web-portal, developed through a multi-agency response team, comprised of the Hawaii State departments of Health, Agriculture, Civil Defense, and the Hawaii County Civil Defense, provides comprehensive, up-to-date information regarding the current status of VOG on Hawaii Island.

 

What is VOG?

Vog is a term that refers to volcanic smog.  It is the haze you may see in the air that is caused by a combination of weather, wind conditions and volcanic activity.  Vog becomes thicker or lighter depending upon the amount of emissions from Kilauea volcano, the direction and amount of wind, and other weather conditions.

People with pre-existing respiratory conditions are more prone to adverse effects of vog which may include: headaches, breathing difficulties, increased susceptibility to respiratory ailments, watery eyes, and sore throat.  The long-term health effects of vog are unknown.

 

Am I affected?

picture of VOG on island of Hawai`iIsland of Hawaii:

Recent changes in volcanic activity at Halemaumau crater at the Kilauea summit have created potential health hazards for people with respiratory conditions and others on the island of Hawaii.

Government and private agencies are working together to monitor volcanic emissions and provide the most reliable information to help those affected make the best decisions for themselves and their families.

Changing and unpredictable conditions such as weather, wind direction and the amount of volcanic activity make it difficult to provide specific guidance for every situation. The Department of Health (DOH) advises Hawaii island residents to get updates and advisories on vog and volcanic emissions from the County of Hawaii Civil Defense local radio broadcasts and their website at www.scd.hawaii.gov.

All Other Islands:

Residents of all other islands are at much less risk for exposure to high sulfur dioxide (SO2) levels from Kilauea volcano emissions. As vog travels across the ocean, it loses some of its thickness, thus having less impact on islands other than Hawaii.

For more information on areas affected, visit Volcanic Hazards Program.

Current EPA AIR NOW forecast.

The State of Hawaii is concerned about the safety and health of our citizens.  Being well-prepared and informed is vital especially regarding VOG conditions on the Big Island.

What can I do to protect myself or prepare for possible health effects of vog?

The following are recommended ways to protect your family at home:

1. Monitor current air conditions daily.
where you can obtain additional vog information and resources.
You can also call the Department of Health’s toll-free VOG help line at 866-767-5044 for daily updates on vog levels.

2. Stay indoors. During periods of heavy vog conditions, avoid physical activity (especially outdoors) such as brisk walking or exercise. Close windows at night.  Use fans or if you use an air conditioner, keep vent closed and use re-circulated air if possible.

3. Drink bottled water. This is especially helpful to avoid dehydration.

4. For people with asthma, heart or lung disease, and older adults who are particularly vulnerable, you should remain indoors or relocate during heavy vog episodes. Keep your medication refilled and use your daily (controller) medication as prescribed. Have your emergency or evacuation medications available.  If you don’t have any medications, but feel you might need them, call your physician.

If you are having asthma symptoms such as trouble breathing, increased coughing or chest tightness, contact your doctor or seek medical assistance.

5. FOR VOG and ASH ONLY: A damp cloth, or a paper, gauze surgical or non-toxic dust mask may be helpful, however, if you find it more difficult to breathe with the mask on, don’t use it.  Note:  These masks are not effective in removing gases such as sulfur dioxide (S02).

Protection at Schools:

The State Department of Health, Department of Education and the County of Hawaii are working with schools to provide air monitors for sulfur dioxide. Each school can identify sensitive children and provide an appropriate shelter during high vog episodes. The shelters will have new air purifiers purchased by the Department of Education.

Also, the Department of Health and Department of Education are assisting schools by developing protocols for heavy vog days such as indoor recess, sheltering in place and evacuation.

While these recommendations are intended primarily for persons having respiratory or chronic lung disease, they are also useful for healthy persons during vog episodes. Click here for a web site on precautionary measures for elevated sulfur dioxide on the Big Island.

 

Additional Information

State Civil Defense – www.scd.hawaii.gov

Hawaii County Civil Defense – http://co.hawaii.hi.us/cd/

Hawaii State Department of Health – http://hawaii.gov/health

Hawaii State Department of Agriculture – http://hawaii.gov/hdoa

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory – http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/

Volcanic Air Pollution – http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs169-97/

Current SO2 Conditions – Kilauea Summit – http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/so2/havoalert.php

Precautionary Measures for Elevated Sulfur Dioxide – http://www.hiso2index.info/

 

For guidance regarding respiratory problems, please contact the Hawaii Chapter of the American Lung Association via telephone at 808-537-5966.

For air quality questions, please contact the State of Hawaii Department of Health Clean Air Branch via telephone at 808-586-4200.

On the island of Hawaii, for concerns about SO2 and protective measures, please contact Hawaii Civil Defense at 808-935-0031 or the Department of Health at 808-933-0917(Hilo) or 808-322-1507(Kona) for additional information.