What is ‘vog’, caused by the Hawaii volcano explosion?

What is vog?

  • Volcanic smog, or air pollution, is created by vapour, carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide gas released from Kilauea.
  • It reacts in the atmosphere with oxygen, sunlight, moisture and other gases and particles.
  • In a matter of hours or days, it converts to fine particles that scatter sunlight, creating a haze that can be seen downwind of Kilauea, according to The Interagency Vog Dashboard, which is made up of Hawaii, U.S. and international agencies.
  • The U.S. Geological Survey said sulfur dioxide emissions from the volcano have more than doubled since the current eruption began.
  • Kilauea was belching 15,000 tons (13,607 metric tons) of the gas each day, up from 6,000 tons (5,443 metric tons) daily prior to the May 3 eruption.
  • People living miles from the eruption are paying attention to the amount of noxious fumes pouring out of the volcano because it creates potential for more vog.

What is vog’s impact on health of residents?

  • Symptoms for generally healthy people can include burning eyes, headaches and sore throats. But those with asthma or other respiratory problems can end up hospitalised.
  • Those who are healthy, physically active and don’t smoke can usually tolerate basic symptoms.

Who is affected?

  • Vog can affect areas far from the volcano, including the western side of the Big Island and even other islands.
  • But lately, trade winds have been blowing most of the vog offshore.
  • The National Weather Service said it expected trade winds to slow this weekend, creating hazardous air quality.
  • With trade winds, communities where lava fissures have opened and those downwind are the most affected.
  • Kilauea is erupting on Hawaii’s largest island, so there are plenty of areas that aren’t suffering from the effects of vog.


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