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Effects of Climate Change on Volcanic Emissions and Health Security in Hawaii by 2050

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Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies Honolulu United States

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While it is commonly understood that climate change will modify the weather, it is also predicted to influence volcanic emissions directly. It will thus have a significant effect on the geophysical properties of the planet, as well as the exposure of humans to emissions of ash, dust and aerosols. Because of local topography, communities in the Hawaiian Islands are exposed to different concentrations and compositions of volcanic air pollution, depending on the volume of volcanic emissions, the speed and direction of the wind, humidity and precipitation, and the height of the inversion layer. Health effects from vog exposure vary greatly among individuals. People with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis are more prone to experience the adverse effects of vog. In Hawaii, there has been an increase in the prevalence of asthma since at least 2000 that has been anecdotally attributed to vog. Investigating possible alternative causes, researchers found significant increases in sensitivity of adults to indoor aeroallergens, particularly those originating from dust mites, cockroaches, cats and dogs. Climate change may actually play an indirect causal role by encouraging human behavior that exposes people to irritating indoor environmental influences, which subjects may then speciously associate with vog exposure.

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Technical Report



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Approved For Public Release;

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