244433 Acute respiratory effects associated with elevated vog emissions from Kilauea Volcano, Hawai`i

Monday, October 31, 2011: 8:30 AM

Bernadette M. Longo, PhD, RN , Orvis School of Nursing, University of Nevada-Reno, Reno, NV
Background: Emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and sulfate particles called “vog” have vented for 28 years from the Kilauea Volcano, Hawai`i. In 2008, eruption activity increased resulting in a 3-fold higher exposure of vog pollution on a downwind community. This public health nursing study investigated acute respiratory effects in the population associated with the higher exposure. Methods: A retrospective cohort design compared prevalence of acute respiratory tract illnesses for the preceding 6 months of low vog exposure to prevalence for 6 months of high vog exposure during Kilauea's increased activity. All patient visits (N = 2,185) at the community clinic were reviewed for diagnostic accuracy, symptomology and demographical information. Effect was estimated by the odds ratio (OR) using a 95% confidence interval (CI) of the point estimates for significance testing. Logistic regression analysis adjusted the OR for a priori-selected potential confounders. Results: There were significant positive associations between high vog exposure and increased prevalence of acute airway problems (OR=2.80; 95% CI=1.49, 5.26), pharyngitis (OR=1.65; 95% CI=1.03, 2.64), bronchitis (OR=2.10; 95% CI=1.03, 4.27), and cough (OR=1.66; 95% CI=1.29, 2.14). The youngest patients experienced airway problems observed as tachypnea, shortness of breath, abnormal lung sounds, or de-saturated oxygen levels and responded to immediate therapies of oxygen or inhaled medications. Conclusions: These findings show an acute respiratory disease burden associated with vog and SO2 exposure above the World Health Organization's 24-hour guideline and the Environmental Protection Agency's 2010 SO2 1-hour standard. Public health nursing has increased health prevention initiatives for the vog-exposed community.

Learning Areas:
Biostatistics, economics
Environmental health sciences
Public health biology
Public health or related nursing
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify acute respiratory health effects associated with exposure to volcanic air pollution. 2. Describe the environmental health concerns for communities living near active volcanoes. 3. Evaluate these epidemiological findings in the development of health prevention initiatives in Hawai`i and other communities proximal to active volcanoes around the world.

Keywords: Environmental Health Hazards, Public Health Nursing

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the research (data collection, analyses, interpretation)and am the Primary Investigator of the study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.