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Vog blamed for Big Isle’s poor air quality

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Hawaii island received a failing grade for particle pollution in the air, according to an American Lung Association report card released Wednesday.

That’s because one of the island’s main sources of particle pollution is volcanic smog, commonly known as vog.

"The tradewinds generally blow the vog offshore in a way that still makes the Big Island a beautiful place," said Steve Busin­ger, a University of Hawaii meteorology professor and vog expert. "Unfortunately, it’s not something we can control."

The association’s "State of the Air 2013" report card gave Hawaii County an F despite a decrease in the number of days with unhealthy particle pollution — from 23.5 days in 2012 to 12.5 this year. Particle pollution is a mix of tiny solid and liquid particles in the air. If they’re small enough, they can stay in the air for long periods, Busin­ger said.

Maui County received healthy grades for particle pollution. According to the report, figures for Kauai County were incomplete.

Volcanic gas emissions from Kilauea volcano create vog. If the tradewinds stop or if wind blows in the opposite direction, other islands, including Oahu, Maui and Kauai, experience the condition. Kilauea has been in constant eruption since Jan. 3, 1983.

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