Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Health Effects of Hawaii’s Erupting Volcano

VOG over Kona, Hawaii
People living on the Big Island of Hawaii have been concerned about the health effects of breathing the volcanic emissions from Kilauea Volcano since the Volcano began erupting over 20 years ago. That concern increased in March 2008 when a new vent opened up tripling the amount of volcanic gas emissions. Volcanic emissions, called VOG in Hawaii, contains sulfuric dioxide, carbon dioxide, mercury and many other chemicals. Recently a study was published highlighting the effects of VOG to the residents of the island.

Bernadette Longo, an assistant professor at the University of Nevada's Orvis School of Nursing, compared clinic records in Ka’u, a southern part of the island that is often covered by VOG, for the 14 weeks before the March 2008 eruption to records three months after the volcano's large increase in emissions. Her study, published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, found three times as many headaches and twice as many severe sore throats after the increase in volcanic emissions. The study also found a 56% increase in people reporting coughs, and a 600% increase in acute airway problems that required breathing treatments or hospital emergency care. The report also found VOG increased death rates of individuals with acute illnesses. Longo collaborated with Wei Yang, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics; Dr. Joshua B. Green from the Ka'u Hospital and Rural Health Care Clinic; and advanced practice nurses Frederick and Vickie Crosby, from the Ocean View Family Health Clinic.

When we visit Volcanoes National Park, we watch the thick clouds of steam and ash billowing out of the Volcano’s open vents in awe and wonder. We have many days when the VOG is so thick here on the Big Island, that it is like twilight at noon. We sometimes find ourselves dizzy and dazed on these heavy VOG days. So, like most people living on this active volcanic island, we are not surprised that this recent study shows significant health effects from the VOG.

The State of Hawaii warns residents to monitor the sulfur dioxide levels, stay indoors during heavy VOG days preferably with an AC running, and drink bottled water.
Here are websites to learn more about the Hawaii's volcanic emissions and monitor the sulfur dioxide levels in Hawaii County:
Hawaii State Civil Defense – http://www.scd.hawaii.gov
Hawai‘i County Civil Defense - http://co.hawaii.hi.us/cd/
Hawai‘i State Department of Health – http://hawaii.gov/health
Hawai‘i State Department of Agriculture – http://hawaii.gov/hdoa
Hawaiian Volcano Observatory – http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/
Volcanic Air Pollution – http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs169-97/
Current SO2 Conditions – Kilauea Summit – http://www.nature.nps.gov/air/webcams/parks/havoso2alert/havoalert.cfm
Precautionary Measures for Elevated Sulfur Dioxide – http://hawaii.gov/health/environmental/air/cab/cab_precautions.html

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hawaii Island Event Gadgets

We developed some web gadgets to showcase Big Island events that you can add to your web pages or blogs.
Both of the gadgets count down to a big event on Hawaii Island next year.

You can add the gadget that counts down to the 2011 Merrie Monarch Hula Festival in Hilo to your website or blog by executing the script located at "http://hiloliving.com/MMdate.js"

You can add the gadget that counts down to the 2011 Ironman World Championship in Kona by executing the script located at "http://konabeachlife.com/IMdate.js"

Both of these gadgets are also available as google desktop gadgets for your igoogle homepage.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Kona 2010 Ironman World Championship

The Ironman World Championships started early Saturday morning in Kailua-Kona. We set out at 5:30AM to claim a viewing spot on the seawall, an hour before the start of the swim race at 6:30AM. But the seawalls were already packed with thousands of people who had arrived even earlier to catch sight of the ironman swim race.  Every square inch of view of the bay was covered with layers of people.  The competitors entered the water to start the 2.4 miles of swimming in front of the pier.

The competitors waited in cold water for the gun to go off and start the swim.

The swimmers returned to Kailua pier after the long hard race in the water.

Volunteers in blue shirts greeted the swimmers on the beach next to the Kailua pier and helped them up the stairs to their bikes.

The swimmers mounted their bikes and started the 112 mile bike race past the King Kamehameha Hotel on Alii Drive.

Bikers weaved through the course at Kuakini highway and Palani road in Kona.

The most interesting aspect of the race was the huge support teams of family, friends and trainers that came with each of the 1800 competitors. They wore brightly colored T-shirts with the name and number of their ironman, drew encouraging messages in chalk along the race routes, and waited tirelessly to cheer their ironman.

Ironman spectators stood atop the ocean wall

Caroline Steffens (2nd place ironman) running the marathon part of the race along Ali'i Drive

The finish line of the Ironman World Championship on Alii Drive in Kona was covered with signs of the sponsors.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ironman World Championship 2010 Parade of Nations in Kona, Hawaii

The World Championship Ironman Parade of Nations took place along Ali'i Drive in Kona, Hawaii on October 5, 2010 to showcase the ironmnen and ironwomen that have come to town from all over the world.



Germany did a dance


Participants from all over the world came to show their stuff.




Slovenia, Sweden and Thailand

South Africa


United Kingdom

United States had the most representation

Kona is filled with vendors showcasing their products to visiting athletes.

A running shoe vendor gives his spiel.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Kona readies for 2010 Ironman World Championships

Kona is alive with signs of the upcoming Ironman World Championship race. There are literally signs along the roads to remind us to make room for the bikers and runners as well as signs of sponsors pasted on buildings in Kailua Village and all along Ali’i Drive. Many of the 1800 athletes have already arrived filling the beaches, stores and roadways in the town, a great feeling after an overly quiet summer. The Ironman is considered the most challenging tri-athlete race and includes 2.4 miles of swimming in the rough ocean in Kailua Bay, 112 miles of biking from Kailua-Kona to Hawi and back, and 26.2 miles of running from Kailua-Kona to the Energy Lab and back.

Lots of part time residents have returned to Kona from the mainland to volunteer for the event. Excitement is growing as the town transforms into a race course with banners and country flags dotted along the route. Athletes and their support teams are everywhere running, biking and posing for photographers.

The extreme fitness of the athletes is turning the heads of everyone, including our own local athletes. Their ironman bodies are beyond the normal fit bodies we have come to admire in Kona. They have muscles that we have never seen on bodies and they make running look effortless.

We went for a swim yesterday at the pier and the water was the roughest we have seen in a long time. Hopefully, the water will be calmer, the vog scarce, and the day sunny for the race on Saturday.

The newspapers have printed maps of the closed roads for the race on Saturday which includes pretty much all the roads in the town. We are preparing to be pedestrians from Thursday through Sunday.

Other events associated with the Ironman start tomorrow, Tuesday October 5, 2010, with the Ford Ironman parade of Nations from 4-7PM. On Friday morning the 13th Annual underpants run, sponsored by BVD, takes place starting at the Kailua pier. We’ve heard that the locals started this run to mock the athletes running around in their skimpy workout clothes.

If you want to feel the excitement of the race, come cheer on the athletes at the Kailua Pier on Saturday morning.