The Hawaii Department of Health is warning consumers that no commercial masks sold to the general public in stores provide protection from the extremely dangerous gases released from the volcanic eruption.
These include ones on store shelves known as the N-95, dust mask or others.
The dangerous gases released from the eruption consist of several different chemicals, dust and particles, including sulfur dioxide, the main health hazard. These masks will not protect against sulfur dioxide, the state Health Department said in a news release.
Sulfur dioxide is toxic to the eyes, skin, nose and lungs, the Health Department said. When inhaled, sulfur dioxide reacts with the moisture of the lining of the nose, windpipe and lungs to form a potent acid, which is a strong respiratory irritant. Children and people with asthma or other lung illnesses are more at risk.
”The best way to protect yourself and your family from the extremely dangerous volcanic gases is to leave the immediate area of the volcano defined by the police and fire department,” the state Health Department said. “This is especially important if you or a family member has asthma or other respiratory disease or illness.”