Hawaiian residents who live downwind from the long-active Kilauea volcano may have elevated risks of adverse health conditions because of high levels of sulfur dioxide and aerosol particulates that drift downwind, according to a new study by researchers at Oregon State University and Hawaii.
During a three-week period of average volcanic activity, the researchers measured the sulfur dioxide level in the Kau district south of Kilauea at 17.8 parts per billion – above the minimal risk level of 10 parts per billion, a guideline set by the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. In comparison, Honolulu – located on another island and not in the path of the Kilauea plume – measured just 1.0 ppb during the same time interval. Measurements taken in Los Angeles during that same period averaged a level of 7.0 ppb. Results of the study have been published in the March issue of the journal Geology.
"When Kilauea began erupting in 1983, there were a number of studies that looked at emissions directly from the volcano, but they havent looked at the dispersal pattern, or the long-term associated health risk," said Bernadette M. Longo, a recent doctoral graduate in public health at OSU and lead author on the study. "What we found is some cause for concern."
Bernadette Longo | EurekAlert!
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