Friday, April 24, 2015

Vog in Hawaii – Mother Nature’s Air Pollution


Vog stands for volcanic fog and in recent years, the vog coming from the volcanoes on the Big Island has been much more intense. The winds coming from the southeast, from the Big Island, bring in volcanic gases and dust that make Maui residents crazy. 

Voggy view of Kahakuloa,
No alteration to photo except for a white vignette.





Comparison view towards West Maui Mountains and Kahakuloa
(vog above, normal day below).
Photos are not altered or filtered, but they are cropped.


Comparison photos of Haleakala Crater on a clear day and a voggy dayPhotos are not altered or filtered, but they are cropped.

The vog goes as far as Oahu in the northwest. Kauai is the farthest main island from the Big Island and their air quality is pretty clear. (But… they have other problems like pesticide drift from big experimental test fields. Let’s hear it for big agriculture!)


Man this #vog is SO debilitating lately. It might be time to get real and acknowledge that the air on Big Island and...

Vog brings headaches, congestion, fuzzy brain, irritability, throat irritation, coughing, difficulty breathing, tiredness, asthma and allergies. It makes the air quality hazy and hard to see, comparable to smog in LA. Landscapes disappear. Entire islands disappear. You thought it was bad enough losing your glasses, try losing an entire island!


Photo of the island of Lanai on a voggy day. 

What happened to West Maui?
Some days it looks like the whole island is under a haze of pot smoke.

On the other hand, vog also creates some incredibly stunning sunsets. So...yeah it sucks, but it's also kind of pretty. 

Is it possible to be allergic to Maui?
One person recently emailed me this question. I think so! My allergies can be worsened by vog. In addition, sugar cane burning occurs on Maui for nine months out of the year. The ashes and dust particles go into the atmosphere. The double whammy of cane burning and vog triggers all sorts of extra health problems for some people.  In addition, Maui has plenty of natural pollen, mildew, mold spores, red dirt particles in the air. Some parts of the island may also experience chemical drift from chemicals used in the agricultural fields. (Sorry, but you asked!)
Reminder: Must have a sense of humor regarding vog.
Originally I planned to cover both vog and cane burning in this post, but it’s too overwhelming. Vog now, burn later. Can you tell I've been overblogging?

(By the way, while I have your attention, three friends are running interesting projects:

Here's a shortcut to the archives for the A to Z Challenge and other blog posts.

The theme of this year’s A to Z Challenge is Living on Maui: A Beginner’s Survival Guide. While I can’t include everything in only 26 short blog posts, this is my foolish attempt.

If you are participating in the A to Z Challenge, please use either Disqus or Facebook to comment below. Please include your link so that I can visit you back, but it might be as late as May!

28 comments:

  1. During the A-Z you've shown that Maui is a 'real' place to live. I always thought of Hawaii as a sort of magical, fairy-tale land of blue skies, sun and beaches. I never considered red dust, vog, transportation issues, taxes, housing issues, bugs, etc. It always seems that the grass is always greener somewhere else, but the somewhere else can also have the same problems! - http://50andfabulousblog.blogspot.com

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  2. That is such a compliment! That's what I've been trying to show. Maui always gets so much hype - I think it was recently voted #2 island in the world by some travel magazine. Seriously!? I'm so appreciative and grateful to live here but it's also a real place with real issues. Every place has problems... one just has to pick a place that has the problems one prefers!

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  3. That sounds awful! I get tired of our fog, but at least it's not toxic, just murky! (actually, aside from the mildew it helps foster, our fog is probably good for our health. It is nice and clean, fresh off the Pacific).

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  4. There are doubts that this is a problem? Like the government is ignoring it? Volcanoes are belching minerals and literal poison into the air. How can anyone question whether or not this is a bad thing?

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  5. Well, governments have been known to turn a blind eye when it's convenient.

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  6. There's a place either off Australia or New Zealand, can't remember exactly where, that is considered to have the "cleanest air" in the world due to the wind currents...Okay, after doing lots of searches, because oh I don't know, I was really curious again, I think it's Tasmania. www.natgeotraveller.co.uk/destinations/australasia/australia/tasmania-windswept-wild/


    Other places claim to have clean air, but it's doubtful. Even clean Tasmanian air shows more traces of pollution than it used to. What I think is that really no place on earth has truly clean air, because we have interconnected weather systems, especially noticeable after horrible disasters like Fukushima or Chernobyl. Still yet, some places are definitely cleaner than others. I'm always disturbed when I see articles touting Maui as having clean air... Like, really? What are these people thinking? Have they ever lived here?

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  7. my post V for victory stems out of my fear that we may really leave nothing worthwhile for our succeeding generations.what you have brought is but another dimension of the problem

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  8. Ah. Hawaii is on my bucket list, but I guess I won't make my plans based on this one post, lol. I have terrible allergies. Years ago in Barcelona I got very sick from the smog there. You could literally see the air you were breathing. And I was in Denver after the 2002 Hayman wildfire. People were passing out in the street. Glad you found my blog and now I will go back and read your other posts.

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  9. I'd never heard about that. Very interesting. I've not been to Hawaii but one day I'd love to. Vog and all :D

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  10. It's exotic for you, but then, Finland is pretty exotic for us!

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  11. When where you in Barcelona? I was only there for a day trip, but the air was fine. I've heard the air in Denver is a lot cleaner now. For making plans to Hawaii, Maui is beautiful, but I think the cleanest air in Hawaii is on the island of Kauai. It's the farthest north and the farthest away from the volcano. I know they have a couple of environmental issues - what place doesn't, but I don't think those issues will affect you for such a vacation.

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  12. It was definitely an eerie story. Have you ever read, "The World Without Us?" by Alan Weisman. Highly recommended. http://amzn.to/1JILK3A It's probably also at the library.

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  13. LOL I never really thought of it being exotic. I'd just like to visit all 50 states eventually. It's one of the few I've not made it too yet. I've been blessed with getting to visit most of the others on road trips but still have a few to get to.

    Finland would be fun to visit! I'd really love to just try a bit of everywhere. It's been a few years since I've gotten to do any big trips due to work and pets but one day I'll get back to it :)

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  14. Late May 1969 I spent a week in Barcelona. A gazillion years ago. I am sure it is much better now, but that was my first experience with smog.

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  15. Dale Bradley MorrisApril 26, 2015 at 7:43 PM

    Wow, I had no idea about this problem. Thanks for sharing. Great blog.

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  16. Oh, oops! I thought you were the cat blogger out of Finland... Hawaii's definitely not one of the states you can visit on a road trip! Theoretically, I guess it could be possible to build a highway like the A-1-A on the Florida Keys, which also gets severe weather and hurricanes, but it would take forever here - we're so slow at construction and the environmental impact would just freak people out...

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  17. In 2006, it was definitely better! Of course, it's also really changed, like everyone else. When we were there, the one thing that surprised me was how many Chinese people live in Barcelona. It seemed like 20% of the city, well maybe not that much, but as we passed people on the street or went shopping, a lot of them were Chinese.

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  18. LOL alas no. I'm in North Carolina. We've got a little ocean and a little mountains but nothing to get too excited about :D

    That is a crazy highway in FL. I'm from their originally though further inland. I can't imagine taking on a project like that and now days, whew, yeah I can imagine the protests to something like that.

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  19. Thanks Dale! The vog has gotten worse since we moved here. I don't think it ever used to be quite this bad. In 2006, I think the volcano on the Big Island acted up a lot more, and people on the Kona side were getting a lot of vog. It was so bad that some friends told me they could not see to the edge of their lawn from inside the house - for a normal size yard. A lot of people from the Big Island ended up moving to the mainland or to other islands. Thanks for posting your link!

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  20. Wow. Interesting post. I had no idea there was a water shortage in Maui. We're planning a trip to the islands next winter. Also, thanks for explaining vog. I was wondering what that was.

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  21. Hawaii is the only natural beauty place which is still available on this earth, i love the fresh air of Hawaii and enjoy the beauty of nature.. thanks for sharing this wonderful post..

    http://www.smogstarexpress.com

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  22. Has the vog gotten worse in recent years or always been bad? You truly paint a realistic picture of paradise. Still, I'd come visit any day.

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  23. J here, stopping by from the #atozchallenge. Thank you for visiting by my blog recently.
    Wow, that's really something. I never would have thought about natural air pollution. I wonder how people have dealt with it in the past? Or if it's worse now for some reason.
    @JLenniDorner

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  24. North Carolina is beautiful! If we ended up living in the South, that would be one of the places we'd consider. Lived in Florida a year - they are definitely efficient at building roads. Traffic still flows quickly, but in Hawaii, it takes forever to build or repair a road, especially if the surf is up.

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  25. It's not nearly as severe in California, and it's not a true shortage but a distribution issue. Thanks for stopping by!

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  26. I love Hawaii but there are lots of beautiful places on earth. I have a long list of places to see.

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  27. Yes, I think it's gotten worse in the last few years. This last year has been pretty voggy, but it's bearable.

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  28. It's worse in recent years because the volcano on the Big Island has been more active. Some years, the volcanic activity is light. Lately, it's been busy, which means more lava flows and volcanic gases that drift over the other islands. Maui's closest to the Big Island, so we get more of it.

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