Is Vog Affecting You?
By Britni Schock, News Writer
Kellie Miyazu, Graphic Designer
Whether you are a long time resident of Hawaii Island or you have been here only a few weeks, you may occasionally notice what looks like a fog or haze over the island. The term for this is vog and it is defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary as, “air pollution caused by volcanic emissions.” They say the origin is a combination of the words volcanic and smog.
In the past few months with Pele’s increased movement the vog has become prominent across the Big Island. According to hawaii.gov, increased vog in your area will depend on some factors including volcanic activity, wind direction and other Pele Blankets The Island Is Vog Affecting you? News Writer Britni Schock Graphic Designer Kellie Miyazu weather conditions. The levels of vog are regularly monitored by government agencies and various researchers and departments in the University of Hawaii system.
There are various effects that residents can experience due to vog conditions. Some effects that people may feel from vog, as described by hawaii.gov are, “headaches, breathing difficulties, increased susceptibility to respiratory ailments, watery eyes and sore throat.” These dominantly affect people with current respiratory problems but anyone can be a target. University of Hawaii at Hilo marine science major Dandi Olsen shared her experience with the vog, “The vog not only gives me more frequent and worse migraines, but also make me feel kind of confused. It makes me much more sensitive to light and slightly congested.” Olsen also added, “ When I first moved here it was way worse! It would make me extremely nauseous and give me paralyzing migraines and I could not even go to class.” The 21-year-old Olsen has no history of respiratory conditions and still claims to have felt severe effects from the vog.
The east side of Hawaii Island generally has a lower amount of vog than the west side due to the winds that carry the vog over the mountain. With the recent activity and wind patterns this is not the case for East Hawaii. We are experiencing some of the heaviest vog conditions on Hawaii Island in years.
How do you stay safe and healthy? First, if you have any respiratory conditions or are sensitive to air pollutants you should monitor the air quality conditions around the island to avoid areas with more dense vog. For daily updates on vog conditions you can call the Department of Health’s toll-free VOG help line at 866-767-5044. The weather on Hawaii Island changes rapidly, so it is important to stay informed and keep your health as a first priority. Also staying indoors and avoiding physical activity outdoors on days with heavy vog is a good way to minimize harmful effects. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and help your body fight the headaches often brought on by vog. These are some general guidelines presented by Hawaii.gov on dealing with vog but if you feel your symptoms worsen then consult a health care professional.
The long term effects of the vog are still unknown but staying educated and referring to your local civil defence updates is the best way to protect yourself from potential hazards. Living around an active volcano is a very unique experience as Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire, is continuously expanding our island through lava flow and blanketing the atmosphere with her goddess gases.