No reprieve from vog in the forecast

  • A thick layer of vog continues to blanket West Hawaii areas for a third day following the start of an eruption Sunday night at Kilauea Volcano. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

A thick layer of vog continues to blanket West Hawaii areas for a third day following the start of an eruption Sunday night at Kilauea Volcano.

With northeasterly tradewinds forecast through Friday, the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Vog Measurement and Prediction Project said the vog, which is comprised of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and other aerosols, may continue to impact areas southwest of the Kilauea summit caldera, including the western half of the southern coast of Hawaii Island (the Ka‘u District).

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“Vog is also likely to impact the leeward side of Hawaii island (also known as the Kona side), as the Hawaiian eddy will transport vog onshore,” according to the project’s forecast, which noted air quality may intermittently reach the “moderate” category in areas based on exposure to SO2 and PM2.5.

The National Weather Service noted Thursday morning that “significant impacts to air quality are not expected, but we are still learning about the concentrations of particulates associated with this new eruption.”

As of the most recent reading at 9 a.m., the Department of Health’s Hawaii Short Term SO2 Advisory website said Ocean View’s air quality was listed as “orange,” or “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” with the concentration of sulfur dioxide in the air at 0.67 parts per million. Levels had been listed as “red,” or “unhealthy” since 6 a.m., and at 8:15 a.m. were at 1.79 parts per million.

According to the Department of Health, during air quality deemed “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” “members in sensitive groups, including healthy individuals with mild asthma, may experience health effects. They may be affected at lower levels than general public. Toward the upper end of this range, most asthmatics who are active outdoors are likely to experience some breathing difficulties. General public not expected to be affected in this range.”

People are advised to avoid outdoor activities that cause heavy breathing or breathing through the mouth. Those experiencing breathing difficulties, such as chest tightness or wheezing, should stop activities, use a rescue inhaler and find a place to sit down and rest.

Fine particulate matter, which are 2.5 microns or smaller and includes SO4, or sulfate, was also elevated Thursday morning with www.airnow.gov labeling air quality in Ocean View as “red” or “unhealthy,” giving it a 157 on the index that runs from 0 (good) to 500 (hazardous). “Unhealthy” air quality, from which some members of the general public may experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects, starts at 151.

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Pahala, as of 9 a.m., was listed as “yellow,” or “moderate” with the concentration of sulfur dioxide in the air at 0.19 parts per million. Fine particulate matter, which are 2.5 microns or smaller and includes SO4, or sulfate, was elevated Thursday morning with www.airnow.gov labeling air quality there as “moderate,” giving it a 53 on the index that runs from 0 (good) to 500 (hazardous). Moderate air quality, which is acceptable but may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution, starts at 51.

The monitor in Captain Cook reported sulfur concentration levels of just 0.01, which is listed as “green” or “good” air quality. Other areas around the island were also listed as “good.” In Kona, fine particulate matter, which are 2.5 microns or smaller and includes SO4, or sulfate, was elevated Thursday morning with www.airnow.gov labeling air quality there as “moderate,” giving it a 41 on the index that runs from 0 (good) to 500 (hazardous).