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The Honolulu Advertiser
Updated at 12:08 p.m., Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sulfur dioxide emissions run high again near Kilauea

Advertiser staff

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Geologist checks a time lapse camera that is canted out over the edge of Halema`uma`u Crater near the former overlook. The time lapse camera looks down into the new vent.

USGS Photo

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The Hawai'i State Department of Health once again is urging Hawai'i County residents to take precautions to protect their health from elevated levels of sulfur dioxide.

The 24 hour average for SO2 in Pahala exceeded the federal ambient air quality standard on Sunday and Monday. The standard for SO2 averaged over 24 hours is 0.14 parts per million, and the DOH Pahala air monitoring station recorded a 24-hour average of 0.181 ppm on March 30 and an average of 0.154 ppm on March 31.

Communities near the Kilauea volcano are particularly affected by increased levels of SO2 caused by the recent volcanic activity. The DOH continues to monitor the SO2 levels in five Hawai'i County communities: Kona, Hilo, Mountain View, Pahala, and Pahoa.

As required by federal rule, public notice will be issued when elevated levels of sulfur dioxide exceed the 24-hour average standard. All further notices and updates will be posted at http://hawaii.gov/health/environmental/air/index.html and will also be included in the County of Hawai'i Civil Defense daily Kilauea Eruption Update.

Elevated levels of SO2 can cause breathing problems in individuals especially those with pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis. Anyone with respiratory conditions who lives or works in an area impacted by SO2 or vog should consider taking precautionary measures. The following are general recommendations from the American Lung Associations:

Stay indoors and use an air conditioner, if available.

Do not smoke and avoid second-hand smoke.

Limit physical exertion.

Drink plenty of fluids to loosen mucus. Warm beverages seem to work best.

If you take medications, always have an adequate supply and keep them readily available in a convenient place.

Contact your physician as soon as any respiratory problem develops.

While these recommendations are intended primarily for persons having respiratory or chronic lung disease, they are also useful for healthy persons during vog episodes. For additional information on respiratory health, contact your personal physician or the American Lung Association of Hawai'i at (808) 537-5966.