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An Indoor Air Quality Assessment for Vulnerable Populations Exposed to Volcanic Vog From Kilauea Volcano

Longo, Bernadette M. PhD, RN; Yang, Wei PhD, MD; Green, Joshua B. MD; Longo, Anthony A. PhD; Harris, Merylin MHSc, RN; Bibilone, Renwick BA

doi: 10.1097/FCH.0b013e3181c4e26b

The Ka'u District of Hawaii is exposed to sulfurous air pollution called vog from the ongoing eruption of Kilauea Volcano. Increased volcanic activity in 2008 prompted an indoor air quality assessment of the district's hospital and schools. All indoor sulfur dioxide concentrations were above the World Health Organization's average 24-hour recommendation. Indoor penetration ratios were up to 94% of ambient levels and dependent upon building construction or the use of air-conditioning. Health-promotion efforts for vulnerable populations at the hospital and schools are under way to improve indoor air quality and respond to those affected by vog exposure.

Orvis School of Nursing, Division of Health Sciences, University of Nevada–Reno (Drs Longo and Yang); Ka'u Hospital and Rural Health Clinic, Pahala, Hawaii (Dr Green and Ms Harris); Department of Geological Sciences, University of Nevada–Las Vegas (Dr Longo); and The Hawaii School System, Hawaii Department of Education, Pahala (Mr Bibilone).

Corresponding Author: Bernadette M. Longo, PhD, RN, Orvis School of Nursing, Division of Health Sciences, University of Nevada–Reno, Reno, NV 89557 (

This work was supported in full by a grant from the University of Nevada–Reno Junior Faculty Research Grant Fund. This support does not necessarily imply endorsement by the university of research conclusions. We recognize the community participation to this work. The researchers thank the participating organizations: The Hawaii Department of Health Air Quality Division, Ka'u Hospital and Rural Health Clinic, Ka'u high and middle schools, Na'alehu elementary school, and the Ka'u Library. The following individuals in Hawaii provided assistance: Principal Sharon Beck; Principal Teddy Burgess; School Safety Officer Mark Pocock; Nursing Director Nona Wilson, RN; Medical Director Clifford Field, MD; and the staff of Ka'u Hospital.

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.