Table of Contents
ISRN Public Health
Volume 2013, Article ID 475962, 10 pages
Research Article

Adverse Health Effects Associated with Increased Activity at Kīlauea Volcano: A Repeated Population-Based Survey

Division of Health Sciences, University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557, USA

Received 22 May 2013; Accepted 25 July 2013

Academic Editors: J. U. Béria, J. Spickett, and I. Szadkowska-Stanczyk

Copyright © 2013 Bernadette M. Longo. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Eruptive activity at the Kīlauea volcano (Hawai`i, USA) has increased since 2008 resulting in volcanic air pollution (vog) at levels exceeding the national air quality standard for sulfur dioxide. Previous investigations during lower vog levels found adverse cardiorespiratory effects in the residents. The purpose of this 2012 survey was to reassess and compare the impact of the increased volcanic activity on population health. Prevalence of cardiorespiratory signs, symptoms, and diseases was estimated in vog exposed and unexposed communities, and descriptions of perceived health and environmental effects were collected door-to-door. Vog exposure was significantly associated with increased odds of self-reported cough, phlegm, rhinorrhea, sore/dry throat, shortness of breath, sinus congestion, continual wheezing, eye and skin irritation, and diagnosed hypertension. Field measurements identified significantly higher average systolic and diastolic blood pressures ( ) and lower blood oxygen saturation ( ). Half of the participants perceived that Kīlauea’s intensified eruption had negatively affected their health with reports of financial impacts from degradation of agriculture and livestock. Relatively stronger magnitudes of health effects were associated with the higher exposure to vog. Public concerns remain about attributed effects of the ongoing eruption. Enhanced public health efforts are recommended at Kīlauea and other degassing volcanoes worldwide.