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Volcano touring with child

Portland, Oregon
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Volcano touring with child

Okay, before anyone thinks I would be silly and take my three year old on dangerous treks, I won't. :) I read that the VOG is not good for little lungs. Some information even goes as far to say "even for just a day." I am wondering if the VOG is really that bad, or is this a warning for parents that may not use common sense? I apologize if that comes across harsh--it's not meant to. I have pretty much written off doing exploration near the volcano areas with my daughter, but then I figured I should ask opinions. What do you think? Should we just stay around the Waikoloa area the whole time (which I'm fine with) or take her exploring around (not close to) the volcano sites?

Cranbrook, Canada
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1. Re: Volcano touring with child

We will be on the Big Island with a 7 and 4 year old. We will be touring VNP as well as all other neat areas around Volcano for about 5 days. We look at it this way - the air quality VOG is always being monitored and rated...it seems that if it gets bad, they even close things down. We will just keep an eye on that. As well, I am sure there are kids that live in Volcano and near VNP - if they live and breathe Hawaii air...we can too! Just keep an ear out for air quality warnings and don't tour the VNP on that day...

Island of Hawaii...
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2. Re: Volcano touring with child

Rats live on poison in the NYC subway tunnels, proving you can get used to anything. I wouldn't take my little kids to explore the VNP at all. (I have lived here for 20+ years.)

Island of Hawaii...
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for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
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3. Re: Volcano touring with child

This is complicated. The volcanic emissions are deadly right at the source, and they become more benign with distance. Second, there are a variety of compounds in the emissions. Vog has a lot of S02 (sulfur dioxide). Nearer the volcano there is more H2S (hydrogen sulfide).

H2S is the rotten egg smelling gas, and it's a deadly neurotoxin. S02 lowers the capacity of lungs to process oxygen. It also messes up sinuses, brings on headaches.

Children's lungs are more affected by S02 than adults. Lastly, children are not good at recognizing when they're having a problem.

The breezes are the thing that allows Volcano Village to be habitable so close to the Village. Most of the time the emissions blow the other way. However, in the VNP itself there are various places where emissions can be rather strong. Jaggar museum, sulphur banks, Chain of Craters Road are some of the "open" areas with issues.

>>> As well, I am sure there are kids that live in Volcano and near VNP - if they live and breathe Hawaii air...we can too!

Um, it sounds like you don't know about the public health issues on the island. The rate of children with asthma on the island is far above normal and above the rate of children who grew up here prior to 1980 when the eruption began (approximately). There are many concerns about the health of the communities that live down wind -- Pahala, for example.

So don't reassure yourself with that idea. The Volcano makes people sick. Obviously long term exposure is in most cases needed for these illnesses to develop, but high levels of gas can bring on acute illness.

Yes, the Park does monitor the air quality and will evacuate if dangerous, but children are subject to bad effects before adults, and the more so the younger they are.

There is very little to engage a really young child at the VNP. Most children are brought there because their parents want to go. Thurston Lava Tube is one of the few attractions that a 3 year old appreciates.

The Panaewa Rain Forest Zoo is 20 times more fun for a toddler than the VNP, IMHO ... so maybe set aside some time for that to balance the day.

It's OK to take a small child there, but just do it with awareness. Don't bring infants and toddlers into areas with high sulfur gas.

Island of Hawaii...
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for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
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4. Re: Volcano touring with child

westhawaiitoday.com/articles/…local03.txt

Read this recent article from West Hawai'i Today:

"Latest Kilauea eruption causing health problems"

Brief excerpt:

"HILO -- People are experiencing three times the headaches, twice the sore throats and 56 percent more coughs since the 2008 eruption in Kilauea's Halemaumau crater.

In addition, there's been a six-fold increase in the chance of having acute airway problems that usually require immediate breathing treatments or transfer to the nearest hospital for emergency care."

Note that the article is focused on Ka'u. That includes Pahala, Punalu'u, Na'alehu, Hawaiian Ocean View Estates. That's because when the winds blow in regular direction from the vent, those areas get them. The VNP gets emissions too, but there's no real population there to study. The reason you can no longer drive all the way around the crater is in part that it would put you directly into air that requires a respirator.

Even prior to the new vent, when the overlook was open, I had some trouble breathing in that area and wouldn't linger too long.

I hope this helps to answer the questions a little. Frankly, unless you are walking around with instruments to measure the air, you don't really know, so TT's advice is certainly the safest approach. The question is whether parents are fine with pushing the envelope when it comes to their kids' lungs. As it turns out, quite a lot of them don't think twice about it.

Denver, Colorado
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5. Re: Volcano touring with child

Really depends on wind and vog conditions that day so check next day forecast for weather and vog conditions before you head that way. The Visitor Center at VNP can give you good advice before heading out. If any of your children show any signs of acute allergies or asthma I would probably pick another island like Kauai.

Cranbrook, Canada
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6. Re: Volcano touring with child

Pick another island???!!!.whoa...isn't the vog only around the puna district? I think your first comment is true - check out conditions for the day and if your child is bothered at all, leave and go to Hilo or Kona...isn't that a tad more realistic. Saying not to go the Big Island at all is a little drastic in my opinion!

Island of Hawaii...
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7. Re: Volcano touring with child

"...isn't the vog only around the puna district?" Actually, most of the Puna District is VOG free except when there is a Kona wind! The worst VOG affected areas are Kau and South Kona/Captain Cook. The further North you go the less VOG you get.

Cranbrook, Canada
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8. Re: Volcano touring with child

i am just saying - telling people not going to the big island because of the VOG seems a little unreasonable!

Island of Hawaii...
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for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
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9. Re: Volcano touring with child

There have been times when the Vog was really bad in Kailua Kona and even Kohala. During those times, people have had to take kids to ER for respiratory symptoms.

We haven't had that level of vog for at least a year, and I certainly wouldn't suggest that to MollaDoodle.

djib, sounds like you're not familiar with how the vog pattern works. There are numerous older topics on vog from 2008, just run a search for vog in the Island of Hawai'i forum (not this forum), and you can read up on it.

10. Re: Volcano touring with child

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