Cinnaminson, NJ, March 18th
Volcanic smog, commonly referred to as vog, is a form of air pollution well-known to the residents of Hawaii and others in various parts of the globe. Vog is described by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) as a hazy mixture of sulfur dioxide (SO2
) gas and aerosols (tiny particles or droplets) which are primarily sulfuric acid and other sulfate (SO4
These aerosols are created when sulfur dioxide and other volcanic gases combine in the atmosphere and interact chemically with oxygen, moisture, dust and sunlight over minutes to days. The exact composition of vog depends on how much time the volcanic plume has had to react in the atmosphere. In areas far (tens to hundreds of km or miles) from active vents, aerosols are the main component of vog. Closer to the volcano, vog contains both aerosols and unreacted SO2
Due to these gases and particulate pollution, the USGS reports that vog can pose a health hazard by aggravating people’s preexisting respiratory ailments. Sulfur dioxide gas can irritate skin and the tissues and mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and throat, and can penetrate airways, producing respiratory distress in some individuals. Aerosol particles in vog can also penetrate deep into human lungs and, at elevated levels, can induce symptoms of asthma. Physical complaints associated with vog exposure reported by USGS include headaches, breathing difficulties, increased susceptibility to respiratory ailments, watery eyes, sore throat, flu-like symptoms and a general lack of energy.
The agency also reports that tiny droplets of sulfuric acid in vog creates acid rain, which can leach lead from roofing and plumbing materials, such as nails, paint, solder and metal flashings. Leached lead poses a health hazard when it contaminates drinking water in rooftop rainwater-catchment systems. Also, when vog mixes directly with moisture on the leaves of plants it can cause severe chemical burns, which can damage or kill the plants. Sulfur dioxide gas can also diffuse through leaves and dissolve to form acidic conditions within plant tissue, damaging agricultural crops. In addition, the presence of vog reduces visibility, creating a potential hazard for drivers and it can limit visibility for air and ocean traffic.
“In the U.S., vog is primarily an issue on the Big Island of Hawaii, but when conditions are right, it can impact people 200 miles away in Oahu,” said Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President, Marketing at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “There are occasions when a million people can be impacted on any given day. At EMSL, we provide air monitoring instruments to detect and measure particulate matter (PM), sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and other airborne pollutants. Our laboratories provide analyses of outdoor and indoor air samples as well as lead testing for water stored in water catchment systems. These tools and laboratory services can be instrumental for monitoring conditions. They are especially useful for specific industries, such as agriculture, tourism and transportation, which can be particularly vulnerable to vog.”
EMSL also recently sponsored an educational video about exposure risks to vog that can be seen at: https://youtu.be/09wm6K34luQ
To learn more about this or environmental, health and safety testing services, sampling supplies and monitoring instruments, please visit www.EMSL.com
, call (800) 220-3675 or email info@EMSL.com
.About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is one of the leading testing laboratories throughout the United States and Canada. EMSL is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider specializing in fast laboratory results for mold, bacteria, Legionella
, USP <797>, pathogens, asbestos, lead, soot, char & ash from fires, VOC’s, odors, radon, formaldehyde, indoor air quality, microbiology, environmental, industrial hygiene, radiological, food, beverage & consumer products and material testing services for the identification of unknown substances. EMSL services both professionals and the general public. EMSL maintains an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies including, but not limited to A2LA, AIHA-LAP, LLC (AIHA-LAP, LLC EMLAP, AIHA-LAP, LLC IHLAP, AIHA-LAP, LLC ELLAP), NVLAP, CDC ELITE, CPSC, CA ELAP, NY ELAP, TX DOH, NJDEP and multiple other state accrediting agencies. Please visit our website at www.EMSL.com
for a complete listing of accreditations. In addition, EMSL carries a wide range of Sampling Equipment and Investigative Products for environmental professionals.