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TSI Instruments are Part of Kilauea Volcano Monitoring

Sep 12 2018 Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, Hawai'i

DustTrak Environmental Monitor downwind of KilaueaKilauea, the active shield volcano on Hawai'i's largest island, has been erupting since May, with resulting earthquakes, explosions, lava flow, volcanic ash plumes, and falling debris. The danger posed by Kilauea has forced the National Park Service to close approximately two-thirds of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park until conditions improve for visitors.

In May, the National Park Service on the Big Island contacted TSI Sales Manager Andrew Christopher. They had removed a TSI DustTrak™ Environmental Dust Monitor from the hot zone and wanted to discuss installing more units in the park.

The DustTrak Environmental Monitor is a mounted photometer. Its laser scatters light to measure particles and aerosols in the air. It logs the data and can send remote reports and alerts as conditions change. Researchers, government agencies, and health and safety teams use DustTrak to monitor conditions around job sites, industrial operations, and environmental or natural disaster sites like Kilauea.

On June 19, Andrew Christopher flew to Hawai'i to help the National Park Service install a new DustTrak Environmental Monitor downwind from the volcano.

"We set up this new DustTrak to run for a few months and report on particulates in the vog produced by the volcano," said Christopher. "Vog happens when sulfur dioxide, particles, and other gases react with air, moisture, and sunlight. It's dangerous because the aerosols produced by volcanoes are small enough to stay in the lungs. Vog is also acidic and triggers breathing problems, especially in people with respiratory conditions. My hotel was about an hour and a half away from Kilauea and the vog was shocking. I could smell it and it gave me a headache. This volcanic pollution also reduces visibility for cars, boats, and aircraft.

The National Park Service is using DustTrak data to monitor the safety of workers in the open part of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. A 131,000-acre restoration project, Kahuku Restoration Plan, is going on in the southern side of the park. Workers in Kahuku are converting former cattle pastures back to native forest. Their DustTrak sends reports and alerts in real-time when it identifies particulate matter small enough to inhale, both PM10 and PM2.5 (10 and 2.5 micrometers) particles.

The Kahuku DustTrak Environmental Monitor is just one of several TSI instruments in the area. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also monitoring aerosols around Kilauea with DustTrak installations. Their broader safety concerns include residents of small towns and communities on the Big Island.

For more information about environmental monitoring with DustTrak, contact Andrew Christopher at andrew.christopher@tsi.com or 310-691-4783.