Live vog monitor helps shield students from toxic gases

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

BIG ISLAND (KHNL) - If you're sensitive to vog, there's a tool you can use to help protect yourself.

Since a new vent opened in March, the Kilauea volcano has released thousands of tons of toxic gas.

Just last week, the United States Environmental Protection Agency told Hawaii County officials they need to improve their repsonse to vog. But there's one school that's already a step ahead.

Dangerous sulfur dioxide mixed with other gases continues to spew out of Halemaumau Crater. It creates vog, or volcanic fog. Chopper 8 captures the thick haze that hovers over the Big Island on really bad days.

At the Volcanic Charter School where Madame Pele's plume is just a bird's eye view from the playground, the staff has developed a way to protect students and the community - 24-hour live monitoring of vog.

"We're watching for levels that might trigger an asthma attack or levels that are high enough to be dangerous to anyone so we'll know when to keep kids indoors on days that have high sulfur dioxide levels," said Dr. David Rizor, Education Director at the Volcano School of Arts and Sciences.

You can access the vog monitor through the Volcano School's website. One click takes you to readings the past 24 hours. There's also a chart showing sulfur dioxide levels the last 7 days."

Once the red line reaches the 400-mark on the chart, those most sensitive to vog should be on alert.

"Now we actually have data that we can watch. We know actually before we start having the reactions with headaches or coughing that there's a situation where we need to keep kids indoors," said Dr. Rizor.

And keep the community on alert, as Kilauea's new vent continues to give birth to land.

To access the live vog monitor, you can find a link on our website. Just scroll down the page and look for 'Volcano Charter School' under the News Links section.