Caution: Masks Sold in Stores do not protect from Extremely Dangerous Volcanic Gases

Posted on May 6, 2018 in 2018 Kilauea Eruption, Declared Disasters, Information and News Releases, News Stories

May 6, 2018

The Hawaii Department of Health is warning consumers that no mask sold in stores provides protection from the extremely dangerous volcanic gases that are being released from the current volcanic eruption.

The dangerous gases consist of several different chemicals, dust, and particles of which sulfur dioxide (SO2) is the main human health hazard. Sulfur dioxide is toxic to the eyes, skin, nose and lungs. Inhaled sulfur dioxide easily reacts with the moisture of the lining of the nose, windpipe and lungs to form a potent acid (sulfurous acid or H2SO3), which is a strong respiratory irritant. Children and people with asthma or other lung illnesses are more at risk than others.

No commercial mask sold in stores available to the general public–including those known as N-95, dusk mask, or other– will protect against SO2. First responders require special masks and training not available to private citizens.

The best way to protect yourself and your family from the extremely dangerous volcanic gases is to leave the immediate area of the volcano defined by the police and fire department. This is especially important if you or a family member has asthma or other respiratory disease or illness.