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Department of Internal Medicine: Dr. Tam talks vog on KHON2, Time Magazine

May 10, 2018 —

By Vina Cristobal, University Health Partners of Hawaiʻi

On Hawaii Island, residents have been offset by an apparent “eruption” of Kīlauea Volcano in Pahoa, destroying homes and surrounding areas in the Puna district – predominately Leilani Estates. Dr. Elizabeth Tam, pulmonologist and chair of the Department of Medicine, was interviewed by KHON2’s Jai Cunningham on May 8.

During the segment, Dr. Tam discussed preventive measures to avoid volcanic smog (“vog”) from entering the lungs. Inhaling vog can lead to harm of the respiratory system, fatigue, headaches and other illnesses.

Kīlauea has emitted 300 metric tons of sulfur dioxide since its last eruption in 1983 – more than three decades ago – but according to Time Magazine, geologists who are currently studying the site estimate the levels of sulfur dioxide could be higher and more deadly to residents.

“Remember at ground zero we have a lot of different things going on. Of course, there’s a huge sulfur dioxide emission from the vents,” Dr. Tam stated during the interview. “But. . .we are careful to watch for this. Right now with the prevailing trade winds coming from the north east, it’s blowing all these so2 and volcanic emissions down south of us.”

Watch the video below to see the interview, and click here to read Dr. Tam’s interview with Time Magazine.