Thinking about escaping from the smoggy city by heading to the island paradise of Hawaii? You might want to reconsider. They can get something just as bad or worse — volcanic smog (or ‘vog’).
If you live in, or nearby, or even downwind of a major city, you’re probably going to have some problems with smog. The mixture of air pollutants that goes into it (many of which come from the oxides of nitrogen that come from burning fossil fuels) can get pretty bad and even send people to the hospital. It’s particularly bad when it’s really sunny out but there’s very little wind. The pollution just hangs over the area and ‘cooks’ (as smog these days is ‘photochemical smog’, which is produced by chemicals reacting in the presence of sunlight). Los Angeles, Mexico City and Hong Kong can see some of the worst smog conditions in the world, partly due to all the industry and cars in the area, and partly because they’re located in places where the air gets very stagnant.
You’d think that someplace like Hawaii would be pretty smog-free. It’s sitting out in the middle of the ocean with some nice trade winds to keep the air moving, so that should make it a perfect vacation destination to get away and breath some clean air for a change. However, it turns out that the volcanoes on the islands can produce volcanic smog, or ‘vog’, that can get just as bad as what we experience back home.