Los Angeles is famous for its smog. London is famous for its fog. Today, the Big Island of Hawaii has become famous for its "vog." The Big Island of Hawaii has the only active volcano in the world called the Kilauea Volcano. Thousands of tourists travel each year to the Big Island to see lava flowing from the volcano first hand.
What is vog? Vog is volcanic emissions that contain sulfur dioxide. Vog is not healthy to breathe and can cause significant respiratory health problems. Vog has always been a part of the Big Island’s landscape; however, until recently, vog was no more an item of concern than smog is in Los Angeles.
In March 2008, an explosion in the Halemau'uma'u Crater opened a new vent and the sulfur dioxide emissions increased significantly causing vog to become a major factor in the Big Island’s environment. People with respiratory health problems were warned to stay indoors when vog levels were high.
On at least one occasion the entire Volcanoes National Park was closed to visitors due to high levels of vog. Parts of the Park remain closed today. Locals on the Big Island of Hawaii are beginning to watch the vog index published in the local daily newspapers which report levels ranging from 0 to 10.
Vog disclosures are being made now as part of standard real estate disclosures in a similar way that indoor air quality disclosures are being made.
Vog is highest in the Southern and Eastern parts of the Big Island of Hawaii. The West Side of the Hawaiian Island where most of the resorts are located has been spared significant amounts of vog, although it may be present from time to time. No one expects the vog to continue at its current high levels and no one except Pele, the fire goddess of the volcano, knows when the vog will return to the minimal levels prior to recent explosion in the Halemau’uma’u Crater.