The big question the last few days has been “Whats the VOG going to do to us humans and our pets?”
Noxious sulfur dioxide gas and other pollutants emitted from Kilauea Volcano on the Island of Hawai`i react with oxygen and atmospheric moisture to produce volcanic smog (vog) and acid rain. Vog poses a health hazard by aggravating preexisting respiratory ailments, and acid rain damages crops and can leach lead into household water supplies. The U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is closely monitoring gas emissions from Kilauea and working with health professionals and local officials to better understand volcanic air pollution and to enhance public awareness of this hazard.
Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens are both consumed by noxious gases and are not safe for humans or pets to live in.
Thick, acrid haze has started to cover all of the East side of the island. A resident from Hawaiian Paradise Park, approximately 15 miles from the eruption in Leilani Estates said “for the last 2 days we have had vog and ash. As you can see my fan is covered in what I am assuming is ash from Leilani Estates or Kilauea”.
We were warned early and told that outdoor activities in parks/ beaches might be canceled in affected areas and that schools might need to keep children indoors. People were also warned to be aware of respiratory problems, as these conditions could deteriorate more rapidly in areas of heavier haze. Keep your pets indoors if possible. This choking haze was not caused by a forest fire or industrial pollution but by light winds blowing gas emissions from Leilani Estates and/or Kilauea Volcano into the area.
SO2 is a poisonous gas that irritates skin and the tissues and mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and throat. During even moderate physical activity, SO2 penetrates deeply into the airway and can produce respiratory distress in some individuals.
Many residents and visitors on the Island of Hawai`i report physical complaints associated with vog exposure. These complaints include headaches, breathing difficulties, increased susceptibility to respiratory ailments, watery eyes, sore throat, flu-like symptoms, and a general lack of energy. In contrast to SO2 gas concentration near Kilauea, the amount of aerosol particles in Hawaii’s air does not routinely exceed Federal standards, but the unique combination of acidic particles, trace amounts of toxic metals, and SO2 gas in vog may account for the wide variety of physical symptoms reported.