Volcanic emissions drive up ER visits on Hawaii Island

Published: May. 21, 2018 at 9:47 PM HST|Updated: May. 21, 2018 at 10:11 PM HST
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KONA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Volcanic emissions from ongoing eruptions are more than five times what the Big Island typically sees.

That's meant higher concentrations of volcanic haze in a number of communities downwind of vents.

And it's driven up ER visits.

Kohala Hospital says it's seen the number of ER visits for respiratory problems jump 30 percent in the last week. That's even though that facility is nearly 100 miles from ongoing eruptions in lower Puna.

Click here for vog resources, including a volcanic haze index map.

The most common symptoms have been shortness of breath, coughing and congestion in the lungs.

"The toughest cases I saw was when I was volunteering on the east side (of the Big Island). People were at the shelters and had a high dose of sulfur dioxide near their homes. Those were the people that were by far the worst," said Dr. Josh Green, a lawmaker and ER physician.

Green said a lot of that had to do with people with lung conditions not having access to their medications.

This story will be updated.

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