Volcanic haze smothers Oahu

Published: Jan. 3, 2012 at 9:32 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 4, 2012 at 11:37 PM HST
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Vog blankets Honolulu Wednesday morning
Vog blankets Honolulu Wednesday morning
Merilyn Delbanco
Merilyn Delbanco

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Take a deep breath. It isn't so easy these days. Vog - volcanic smog - has left a thick layer in the air. Through the haze, residents can barely make out silhouette of Diamond Head. While the vog looks bad, it was even worse early Wednesday.

For several days now, Oahu's been blanketed with Big Island vog - a form of air pollution created, in part, from volcanic gases from Kilauea. For many residents, it's only a slight irritant, but for allergy sufferers, like Merilyn Delbanco, it means days of discomfort.

"It has been bothering me when the vog comes in or the weather changes," explains Delbanco. "Then, I start sneezing."

Allergist, Doctor Jeffrey Kam, knows when the vog rolls in, his phone starts ringing. "Today, especially, I'm seeing a lot more people with breathing difficulty, asthma symptoms, coughing, chest congestion, nasal and eye allergy symptoms. It's definitely picked up today."

Southeasterly winds have carried the pollution across to Oahu. Dr. Kam say, while one day of vog isn't bad, several days of it can really bring on problems. "My patients are in tune with when the vog comes in. They know it's a major trigger for their allergies and asthma."

He advises patients to increase their medication when necessary, stay indoors, turn on air-conditioners, drink more fluids, and flush their noses with nasal saline.

Health officials say Oahu's current air quality is both moderate and acceptable, but that's little relief for all those people suffering out there.

Click here for the State of Hawaii's vog website. Click here for the current EPA AIR NOW forecast.

You can also call the Department of Health's toll-free VOG help line at 866-767-5044 for daily updates on vog levels.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.