Vog causes health concerns as well as colorful sunsets
A University of Hawaii professor talked to Island News about how to track the vog.
Kilauea been churning out staggering amounts of both lava and gasses. The lava is reshaping the landscape and the gasses are creating some serious volcanic smog, or vog. The emissions from the Kilauea volcano have been occurring since the early 80's, but the amount of vog has more than doubled since the latest eruptions.
University of Hawaii professor Jennifer Griswold is showed Island News the Vog Measurement and Prediction Project, known as VMAP.
Right now the VMAP is showing that Puna has unhealthy levels of vog.
"For folks living in Puna if this keeps going for months and months it could cause long term damage to people's lungs because its acidic," said Griswold. "Imagine pouring acid on your hands, it would damage your skin. Imagine breathing that acid into your lungs."
Griswold says people in that area should be wearing a mask that blocks out fine particulate matter known as PM 2.5. She also says its a good idea to stay indoors. But that's not easy for people to do. Especially people drawn in by the spectacular sunsets that come with vog.
"The particulate matter given off by the volcano is intensifying or enhancing the amount of sunlight that's being scattered which makes the sunsets appear brighter," said University of Hawaii professor Alison Nugent.
She says its all about how the gasses interact with the sun light. Which is why you may have seen some extraordinary sunsets lately.
"To see the sunsets it would be anywhere that the gasses are to the west of you," said Nugent. "That could be here on Oahu or the Big Island. The trade winds are bringing the vog and gasses from the east to the west."
Professor Griswold using VMAP to help plan when to check out a killer sunset, while keeping safety in mind.
You can access VMAP here: http://weather.Hawaii.edu/vmap/