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News reports from Department of Health

Mauna Loa eruption raises potential for air quality hazards

Posted on Nov 28, 2022 in Newsroom

HONOLULU – The Hawaiʻi Department of Health (DOH) is advising the public to be prepared for air quality impacts due to the Mauna Loa eruption. As of November 28 at 2:00 PM HST, permanent air quality monitoring stations across the state are reporting that air quality remains normal. However, the eruption may cause moisture conditions, airborne ash and levels of sulfur dioxide to increase and fluctuate in various areas of the state. Conditions change rapidly, and poor air quality can be very localized.

Residents and visitors to Hawaii are advised to be prepared for and aware of the surrounding conditions, and how they may react to poor air quality or humidity. In the event of humid conditions, the following precautions are advised:

  • Reduce outdoor activities that cause heavy breathing. Avoiding outdoor activities and exercise during humid conditions can reduce exposure and minimize health risks. This is particularly important for sensitive groups such as children, the elderly and individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions, including asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and chronic lung and heart disease.
  • People with asthma or a chronic respiratory disease should always have medication available. Daily prescribed medications must be taken according to schedule.
  • People experiencing health effects should contact their medical provider as soon as possible if any symptoms develop, as respiratory conditions can rapidly worsen in heavy sulfur dioxide or moisture conditions.
  • Stay indoors and close windows and doors. If an air conditioner is used, set it to recirculate. If you must move out of an affected area, turn on the car’s air conditioner and set it to recirculate.
  • Face masks (surgical, cloth, KF94, KN95, N95) do not provide protection against sulfur dioxide or moisture. However, they can be effective in outdoor environments to reduce inhaled hazardous particles associated with falling ash and Pele’s hair.
  • Do not smoke and avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

Moisture and air quality updates are available through the:

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