Volcanic mountains

Air quality and respiratory hazards accompany the latest volcanic eruption in Kilauea


HONOLULU (KHON2) – Although it is a spectacular sight, the new eruption of Kilauea creates dangers that residents and visitors alike should be aware of.

One of the dangers includes Pele’s hair and other fragments of light volcanic glass from the lava fountains that will fall downwind of the fissure vents. People should minimize exposure to these particles, as they can cause skin and eye irritation.

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“From what I understand, at least currently, with the type of rash that’s happening in the crater right now, although Pele’s hair can be created in some places, it doesn’t travel very far from the crater,” State toxicologist Dr Diana Felton explained. for the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH).

The eruption also creates high levels of volcanic gas, which creates the potential for health hazards in the air.

“These will be children and the elderly, but also people with respiratory problems like asthma or chronic lung disease,” said Dr Felton. “Even certain heart conditions can make you more sensitive to the air you breathe.”

As of Thursday, September 30, several areas of the Big Island have already seen spikes in the “orange” level on DOH air quality monitors, which is unhealthy for sensitive groups.

“Early this morning there were increases in sulfur dioxide and particulate matter on the east side of Hilo,” Dr Felton said. “The rest of the day there were definitely more elevations in some southwestern communities like Ocean View, Naalehu, and Pahala.”

Experts recommend that those who have a reaction to vog stay indoors, turn on their air conditioner, and, if possible, move away from the area.

“Standard face covers for COVID will not protect people from sulfur dioxide,” Dr Felton said. “The gases are too fine, pass through the fabric. “

The Hawaii Department of Health encourages residents and visitors to use the following resources which provide comprehensive, clear, and current information on the effects of vog on health, how to protect yourself, vog, and predictions of vog. wind, air quality, changing conditions and advice to visitors.

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