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What is vog and where does it come from?

• General: DIY / How-To • General: Educational • General: Guide • General: Health / Wellness / Spirituality

If you're new to Hawaii and wondering why it's hazy outside you might think that this is smog which is common in bigger cities on the mainland and in other countries.

So What Is Vog?

But that haze you see isn't smog, and it's usually not fog either, so what is it? It's vog which is what comes out of volcanoes. Specifically, it's sulfur dioxide and various other nasty gasses and particles that mix together when a volcano is erupting and it's visible as a haze in the light.

So it's essentially a volcanic smog or volcanic fog and thus you get the word vog. It's also nasty stuff and is considered air pollution and so you generally want to avoid it when possible. On most islands you'll rarely, if ever, see it. On certain islands like the Big Island, it's very common and some days can be really bad while others it's hardly noticeable.

The reason for the problems on the Big Island are simple, they have Kilauea Volcano which has been erupting, non-stop, since 1983 and spews all sorts of vog into the air. The reason that some days are worse than others is simple and based on the trade winds. In Hawaii, the trade winds usually blow in a southern-ish direction and the volcano, located on the Big Island's southern shore, will spew the vog into the air which then blows away from the islands.

On days where the trade winds stop blowing or when the winds reverse direction (called Kona Winds) is when you'll likely see vog. On these days the Big Island can get pretty nasty with vog as can the islands of Maui County. On the worst days even Oahu will get vog cover over a lot of the island. Sometimes this lasts for several days or longer, it all depends on when the trade winds kick back in and blow the vog away.

Health Issues

So what does this mean if you see vog? Usually not a whole lot. If you're on the Big Island on a voggy day then you will likely be able to smell, or even taste, the air as well as see the haze. On the worst days on other islands you can see it, smell it, and even taste it as well but that is more rare.

Some people are more sensitive to the vog than others. While some may not notice it, others may be heavily impacted by it. For example, it could lead to headaches or respiratory problems, especially to those who are prone to those issues to begin with.

How To Deal With Vog

If you find yourself out in a voggy day and / or notice that is making you feel bad then consider trying some of these common sense ideas:

1. Avoid high vog areas, this is usually pretty easy and solves most issues.

2. Don't smoke and avoid others who smoke as well as campfires and other smoke sources.

3. Drink lots and lots of fluids with hot teas being suggested for best results.

If you find yourself having any types of breathing issues then you should get medical help right away.