Vog, Hawaii island’s Number One Health Hazard?

February 16, 2017
6 pm   -   8 pm
West Hawaii Civic Center

VOG sat pic

This forum will explore the health consequences of long term exposure to volcanic emissions, how topography and trade winds direct Vog and create pollution pockets in West Hawaii; how best to live with Vog; and new multi-agency Vog monitoring and reporting tools now available on-line to the public.

Living on Hawai’i island with its active volcanoes has its pluses and minuses.  One minus for residents of the Big Island are Kilauea’s Volcanic emissions (Vog or volcanic smog as it has been called) which poses a significant health hazard for many residents and some visitors to the Big Island. Breathing difficulties, watering and stringing eyes are common side effects of exposure to vog and its primary ingredient sulfur dioxide (SO2) .

Hawai’i Island’s Kilauea Volcano has erupted continuously since January 1983 and based on USGS measurements emits an average of 2,000–4,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution per day, but has been recorded to release up to 12,000 metric tons per day of sulfur dioxide (SO2).

Vog is a natural form of air pollution that results when sulfur dioxide (SO2 ) and other gases and particles emitted by Kilaueu interact with water vapor to produce an acidic haze. The combination of wind speed and direction, inversion layer height, and local terrain lead to a variable distribution of Vog over Hawai’i island, impacting residents with various health effects associated with chronic exposure.

Volcanic gas plumes from Kīlauea rise up from three locations: Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent, and from along the coastline where lava flows from the East Rift zone enter the ocean.   Prevailing northeasterly trade winds, can push Vog emissions downwind and into Ka‘u and along the Kona coast of the west side of Hawaiʻi island.   These same volcanic plumes can also create a blanket of Vog that can envelop the entire island of Hawai’i and other islands within the state, obscuring views and or making breathing difficult.

Vog pic2

This forum took place on February 16, 2017, at 6 pm at West Hawaii Civic Center.

To learn more about each Forum featured speaker, click onto the presenter's name listed below their picture.

This event was moderated by:

Sherry Bracken
Hawaii Public Radio & New West Broadcasting
Bill Bugbee
Community Forums

The event's featured speakers were:

John Peard
Hawaii State Dept. of Health (HEER Office)
Tamar Elias
U.S. Geological Survey, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
Dr. Elizabeth Tam
University of Hawaii, John A. Burns School of Medicine in Honolulu

Speaker Presentation Materials

The presenters have graciously allowed us to post their presentation notes.

Subject Support Materials

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Forum Session Video

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