Chopper 8 visits the Big Island

By Paul Drewes bio | email

BIG ISLAND (KHNL) - The world's most active volcano is a big draw on the Island of Hawaii. But some can't get to this attraction because the sky is filled with vog. We take a closer look at this pollution problem for the Big Island.

Kilauea volcano's spectacular eruption is still going on, spewing lava like it has for the past 25 years.

But while the glowing lava brings out many to capture breath taking photos.

The gases spewed out of the volcano can take the breath away of those nearby.

And many suffer whenever vog levels are high.

"Its like I'm getting a cold. I get all stuffed up but I don't have a fever. But its pretty bad, its pretty bad," said Ben Rosete Jr. , a Hilo resident.

Chopper 8 flew over the Big Island, to show you the voggy conditions.

While the weather was nice at sea level and the skies are blue, as we went up the mountain slopes the vog fills the sky.

Those volcanic emissions are thickest about a thousand feet.

When the vog is heavy, for some people, it can ruin a perfectly good day in paradise.

"It can make them miserable. People stay home, they don't wanna go outside and it could be a nice day but its voggy and it spoils a nice day," added Rosete.

The sulfur dioxide from the volcano can lead to asthma and other respiratory illnesses and aggravate lung and heart disease. When that SO2 mixes with dust and sunlight, it makes vog.

The big problem for the Big Island isn't just a hassle for those who breath it in, when vog mixes with atmospheric moisture, it produces acid rain.

But until Kilauea volcano stops erupting, there is little that can be done to stop the vog.

"It can be detrimental but you live with it on the Big Island," said Rosete.

While the eruption has been going on for the past 25 years, there are times when the vog from the volcano is worse. And we've seen higher levels - since spring of this year.