After 34 years of nearly continuous volcano eruption from Kilauea on the Big Island, an inter-agency group has created new informational products about the health hazards of volcanic air pollution–vog.
Sulfur dioxide in vog creates hazards that challenge communities, agriculture and infrastructure on the Island of Hawaii and across the state. Vog, which can sometimes be seen as a visible haze or have a sulfurous smell or taste, is said to contribute to a variety of symptoms including eye irritation, coughing, wheezing, sore throats and headaches.
The new vog-hazard information–including a brochure, a FAQ booklet, a poster and a web-based dashboard–were created by a partnership between the U.S. Geological Survey, Durham University, International Volcanic Health Hazard Network, Hawaii Department of Health and County of Hawaii Civil Defense.
“The diverse partnership has allowed us to develop new, consistent products that more fully address the needs of the community,” said DOH’s John Peard.
The products were designed to disseminate information while helping residents protect themselves during vog episodes. The booklet, brochure, poster and dashboard offer advice on vog protection measures, such as staying indoors, limiting physical activity, and staying hydrated when vog levels are high.
The mobile-friendly vog dashboard provides comprehensive links to a wide range of vog resources, including vog forecasts and air-quality information. The dashboard is hosted by the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network, a clearinghouse for information on the health impacts of volcanic eruptions.
The new products were inspired in part by a 2015 Durham University study by Claire Horwell. The study results supported the need for consistent online advice from all federal, state and local agencies; increased access to web- and non-web-based information on vog exposure and protection; and updated guidance on how to access resources about vog.
Horwell said providing relevant, up-to-date information to a population living with decades of an ongoing volcanic eruption may help people to better cope with the frequent vog conditions.
All of the new Hawaii vog products are available online, and are accessible through the dashboard. Click here to get started.
Photo courtesy of USGS