Vog is a portmanteau of the words “volcanic,” “smog,” and “fog.” Vog occurs when volcanic gasses mix with oxygen, moisture, and sunlight. On Hawaii, as a result of the Kilauea volcano continuously erupting, vog can be a major problem. The entire “Big Island” can be enveloped in a sheet of vog, though the Kona coast is most frequently affected as a result of the south and southwest prevailing trade winds.
Vog contains chemicals that are detrimental to humans, plants, animals, and the environment in general. The aerosols in vog are acidic and can remain in the lungs and cause respiratory problems. Common side effects of vog exposure include headaches, sore throat, watery eyes, breathing difficulties, asthma attacks, lethargy, and flu-like symptoms. These symptoms are more severe in people with respiratory disease Vog can also cause problems with visibility, which can create hazards for air, road, and ocean traffic.
It is possible to buy an air filter for your home which will filter out most of the harmful materials in vog, but consumers must be wary: choosing the wrong air cleaner to solve a problem with vog can lead to a dangerous false sense of security. Vog is made up primarily of sulfuric acid, along with small amounts of toxic metals like mercury and arsenic. Only a combination HEPA filter and large amounts of activated charcoal are effective in absorbing the toxic chemicals in vog. Anyone who lives in an area heavily affected by vog, especially if they have a pre-existing respiratory disease, needs to consider getting the proper air filter seriously.
Conventional air purifiers filter allergens and pollutants out of the air by passing them through a HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate air, filter. These filters, which meet the Department of Energy standard for removing at least 99.07% of particles greater than .29 micrometers in size, are effective at removing pollutants like tobacco smoke and mold particles. Unfortunately, these filters do not work on vog, as they are not able to filter out sulfur particles.
A high-quality vog rated air filter is much more expensive than a conventional air purifier but is designed to remove much more types of dangerous chemicals, particles, and toxic materials, particularly those associated with vog. These filters work by passing the air first through a super HEPA filter, which removes 99.99% of all airborne particles that are .1 microns in size, and then by moving this pre-filtered air through 18 pounds of carbon. The 18 pounds of carbon is ground so fine, that the total surface area of the carbon particles exceeds 2200 acres.
You may not want to shell out the money required to invest in a good set of vog rated air filters for your home, but consider it an investment into your health and well-being. Prolonged exposure to vog can cause health problems that will cost you far more money, and possibly a shorter life span in the long run. If you live in an area affected by vog, it is important to take this precaution and to do so as soon as possible, before the effects are irreversible.