Protect yourself from vog

What can I do to protect myself from vog?

Vog is a hazy mixture of sulfur dioxide gas (SO2) and particles (PM2.5) originating from Kīlauea Volcano. Sensitivity to vog varies among people, so everyone needs to take responsibility to protect themselves and dependent family members, as necessary. Individuals in ‘sensitive groups,’ such as people with pre-existing respiratory or other medical conditions, are expected to be at highest risk for potential health effects, depending on the amount of emissions, distance away from the vent, and wind direction from day to day. 

Below are suggested actions for limiting your exposure to vog. Please refer to the interagency vog FAQ booklet: 'Frequently Asked Questions on Vog from KīlaueaVolcano' for further information on each of the bullet points, below. In addition, the information below is also available to download as a brochure and poster. Please see the Fact Sheets page for printable versions of all products.

Prepare for vog exposure:

  • Understand the hazard: Get familiar with key air monitoring websites and the SOand PM2.5 advisory codes/levels. Internet links to key sites are provided on the Current Air Quality pages
  • Learn about wind conditions: Be aware of winds that could carry vog to your area. This will help you to better keep track of and predict when you might be affected by vog. Internet links to key sites are provided on the Vog and Wind Forecast pages
  • Keep medications handy: If you have asthma or other respiratory conditions, keep your medication available and use as prescribed. If you don't have medications, but feel you might need them, call your doctor.

 

Protective actions when vog is a problem:

Seek medical assistance as necessary:  

If you are having asthma symptoms, such as trouble breathing, wheeze, increased coughing, or chest tightness, contact your doctor or seek other medical assistance. Assume that asthma could get worse during periods of high vog.

 

 

Take care of yourself:
  • Do not smoke: Also, avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of liquids to help loosen congestion. Warm or hot liquids in particular may help some people.
  • Manage congestion or irritation: Over the counter nasal sprays or eye drops can help reduce symptoms for some people.

 

Reduce your exposure to vog:
  • Limit strenuous activities: Outdoor exercise or exertion increases your chances of being affected by SO2 gas and/or PM2.5 . When vog levels are elevated, reduce strenuous activity, if possible.
  • Stay indoors: When vog levels rise, go indoors and close all doors and windows to the outside and, if possible, seal obvious gaps under doors or around windows. Eliminate sources of indoor pollutants (i.e., smoking, candles/incense, and improperly vented fuel burning stoves) and beware of becoming overheated as a result of closing up your house. If your house is not well-sealed, it may still offer some protection. Alternatively, consider visiting indoor areas that are better-sealed and/or have air-conditioning (i.e., commercial buildings or businesses).
  • Reduce indoor vog with an air cleaner: If doors and windows in your house, or in one room of it, can be closed, the use of an appropriate air-cleaning device can help reduce the levels of both SOand PM2.5 (if you live near the source vents), or just PM2.5 (if you live farther from the vents).  Internet links to key sites are provided on the Air Purifier Information pages.    
  • Leave the area if appropriate: If indoor areas also have poor air quality, consider temporarily relocating to a less impacted part of the island.
  • Restrict vog from entering your vehicle: If driving through the dense volcanic plume near HVNP, to minimize air infiltraiton, temporarily close your windows, and turn your fan and air conditioner off.

 

  • If you are visiting Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park (HVNP): Follow the advice of Park rangers and posted signs. The National Park Service (NPS) HVNP advisory website provides information on air quality in the park. Internet links to key sites are provided on the Advice for Visitors pages.

  • Respirator or face mask use: The Hawaiʻi Department of Health (HDOH) does not recommend the use of respirators or face masks for the general public at current vog levels. ‘Sensitive groups’ such as children or people with pre-existing respiratory conditions should be especially cautious because respirators/masks typically do not fit children and the breathing resistance caused by respirators/masks can worsen respiratory disorders. Respirators/masks may not protect those with beards or mustaches. Many commonly available paper dust masks, bandanas, or surgical masks may not provide any significant protection from either SO2 or PM2.5. Safe occupational use of respirators requires correct mask and/or filter cartridge selection, fit testing, physician screening, and training on correct use, maintenance and storage.

 

Specific advice

In addition to the above information, advice for protective actions for SO2  and particles (PM2.5) at specific advisory levels is avaialble through HDOH and EPA:

1. HDOH guidance on short-term sulfur dioxide (SO2) advisory levels

HDOH
Recommended actions/activities at specific SO2 concentrations/advisory levels

http://www.hiso2index.info/assets/FinalSO2Exposurelevels.pdf

 

2. AirNow guidance on actions at AQI advisory levels (particles)

EPA
Recommended actions/activities at specific particle concentrations (denoted by the Air Quality Index)

https://www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=pubs.aqguidepart