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May 5 / Dave Schumaker

Volcanic Smog on Hawaii

The recently created vent on the Big Island of Hawaii has seen a lot of activity and has forced the closure of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park multiple times over the past few months. The Volcanism Blog has had some excellent posts about Hawaii and the new activity as well.

An article out today, written by the Associated Press, talks about the issues facing farmers and residents of the Big Island and their struggles dealing with the volcanic smog (called vog) created by the new vent. The increased levels of sulphur dioxide and a change in wind direction have forced evacuations and killed various crops.

Big Island crops are shriveling as sulfur dioxide from Kilauea wafts over them and envelops them in “vog,” or volcanic smog. People are wheezing, and schoolchildren are being kept indoors during recess. High gas levels led Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to close several days this month, forcing the evacuation of thousands of visitors.

Residents of this volcanic island are used to toxic gas. But this haze is so bad that farmers are thinking about growing different crops, and many people are worrying about their health.

Kirk Brewer, 33, an electrician who moved to the Big Island in 2006 from Southern California, blames his headaches and wife Tracy’s itchy skin, sore throat and runny nose on the vog.

“It’s a bummer when you go to the other islands and see how clear and blue it is, but we’ll just deal with it,” Brewer said.

Image Credit: brandilnm on flickr.

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