How has the volcano affected Hawaiian air quality? As the eruptions continue, volcanic ash, lava and toxic gas spread far in the southern region of the Big Island. The Civil Defense Authority and reports from the Hawaii Volcano Observatory have warned that stronger trade winds and weather conditions could blow the toxic ash cloud out to the rest of the state, affecting driving conditions and quality of air for millions of other Hawaiians.
“In addition to lava flows and earthquakes, Kilauea is also producing large amounts of sulfur dioxide gas. That gas mixes with other chemicals like carbon dioxide and water to cause what scientists call volcanic smog, or vog, which is dangerous to breathe in high quantities. “Volcanic gas is coming out of these fissure vents at very high concentrations,” Tina Neal, the scientist in charge of the U.S. Geological Survey observatory monitoring volcanoes in Hawaii, said at a press conference. Chemicals produced by burning asphalt and homes are further reducing local air quality, she said.” (Newsweek)
In the past couple of days, the levels of sulphur dioxide present in the immediate vicinity of Kilauea have tripled. In addition, the combination of lava and haze (laze), is a new threat to Hawaiians. As the laze reaches the Pacific ocean, it reacts and produces hydrochloric acid, spewing volcanic glass particles in the air. Laze is toxic, hot and unpredictable, and can create dangers to human health including lung, eye and skin irritations. Volcanic smog can cause respiratory problems and irritations to skin and mucous membranes.
Air quality and health dangers go hand in hand. Are you familiar with how your air quality is affecting you? Do you need to know more? Envicomply offers training in Air Quality and Air Pollution that can help keep you and those around you safe.