Date of Award

Fall 1-9-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Public Health

First Advisor

Yanjue Wu


Kilauea volcano on Hawaii Island has emitted as much as 6,000 tons of sulfa dioxide (SO2) daily more than 20 years. In 2008. Kilauea’s emissions from its summit and its east rift increased dramatically. SO2 reacts with water vapor to generate “vog”, a mixture of SO2 and sulfate particles which induces respiratory symptoms. Wind patterns and the island’s terrain produce zones of chronic vog exposure. Respiratory health of island’s school children could be affected by “vog”.

In this project, we will analyze the relationship between air pollutants from volcano emission and pulmonary function alternations in local school children. The effects of air pollutants as environmental risks on children’s respiratory health will be addressed. Results and recommendations will be given to the local public health department and residents on Hawaii Island to prevent further respiratory problems caused by volcano emissions.

In 2002-2003, we recruited 1,986 children, born 1992-1994, who attended 29 Hawai’i Island schools in all 4 vog exposure zones. Questionnaires of home environment, family and personal medical history, and respiratory health were administered. Height, weight, and spirometric lung function were measured in 2008 – 2009. We conduct multivariate analyses to identify the significant risk factors which affects children’s pulmonary functions.

Our results suggest that pulmonary function of local children in Hawaii Island are affected by race distribution and asthma condition adjusted by height, weight and age. Smoking and vog exposure are not significant risk factors.