The Kilauea Eruption Has People Worried About Volcanic Smog. Here ’s How Dangerous ‘Vog’ Really Is

Thinking of Hawaii typically brings to mind pristine white-sand beaches and crystal-clear seas. In contrast to these picturesque scenes, however, is the Kilauea Volcano, situated on the state’s Big Island, which saw a major explosion this week and has some reports warning of a volcanic smog (or “vog”). Since it started continuously erupting in 1983, Kilauea has each day pumped out at least 300 metric tons of sulfur dioxide gas, a pollutant also produced by power plants and industrial manufacturing operations. Over the course of a year, Kilauea’s sulfur dioxide production is equivalent to somewhere between 5% and 10% of that emitted by all of China, according to a 2016 paper published in Environment International. And after a major eruption like the one that occurred last week, production kicks into overdrive. “These are really high levels, and that’s why [people near the volcano had to] evacuate,” says Dr. Elizabeth Tam, a professor of medicine and respiratory health at the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine and the lead author of the Environment International paper. “But I have to say that, periodically, many places on the Big Island actually see levels that are way over what [the Environmental Protection Agency] considers safe.” Sulfur dioxide is toxic on its own, but it also reacts with moisture, oxygen, dust and sunlight in the atmosphere to create volcanic smog, or “vog,” accord...
Source: TIME: Health - Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Tags: Uncategorized Environmental Health healthytime onetime Source Type: news

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