Researchers at the University of Hawaii have put a price tag on at least one health-related complication from volcanic emissions, in one of the first studies to examine the economic impacts of a pollution source that is not man-made.

Since 2008, when Kilauea’s eruptions increased significantly, vog has contributed to an estimated $6.2 million in additional emergency room spending in Hawaii,  according to the study.

“We find strong evidence that particulate pollution increases pulmonary-related hospitalization,” the study states. “Specifically, a one standard deviation increase in particulate pollution leads to a 2-3% increase in expenditures on emergency room visits for pulmonary-related outcomes.”

Kilauea is the biggest stationary source of sulfur dioxide pollution in the United States. In other parts of the country, So2 is an air pollutant most commonly associated with coal plant emissions.

“In the absence of the volcano, air quality conditions in Hawaii are ranked the highest in the United States,” the study says.

Vog blankets metropolitan Honolulu with view of Waikiki above.  9 dec 2014 . photograph Cory Lum

Vog blankets metropolitan Honolulu.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

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