Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Earns National Award for Monitoring Air Quality

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has earned the national Safety and Health Group Award from the National Park Service for its work in monitoring air quality within the park, and communicating the
information to the public and employees.

NPS photo of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Ecologist David Benitez checking the SO2 monitor at Steam Vents

In 2011, the park’s air quality (AQ) team installed seven stations that measure at 15-minute intervals sulfur dioxide (SO2) and volcanic particulates downwind of Kīlauea’s two active locations at Halema‘uma‘u and Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō. The findings are monitored and shared in real time at http://www.hawaiiso2network.com/.

The site offers a multitude of data, including AQ findings, weather conditions and wind direction, links to other AQ sites for the state and Hawai‘i Island, and the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory webcams and updates.

The team also established an AQ Policy to guide corrective actions within the park, including temporary area closures as necessary to protect visitors and staff from dangerous fumes. In addition, mobile hand-held monitors, or gas badges, are used by field crews.

“Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has the highest average SO2 levels in the National Park Service due to ongoing volcanic activity, a natural event,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “Our air quality program is a model for naturally occurring SO2 emission management nationally. With a solid
communications system in place, visitors can safely visit our fascinating World Heritage Site on Hawai‘i Island,” she said.

Park visitors, staff and the public are also alerted by mobile electronic road signs that are programmed to convey real time AQ conditions. Monitors displaying the AQ website are also available for the public and staff inside the Kīlauea Visitor Center, on the visitor center lānai (accessible 24 hours a day), and at Jaggar Museum.

The AQ team is comprised of staff from Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, the Air Resources Division of the National Park Service, the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association and the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

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