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Park Earns National Award for Air Quality Monitoring System

DavidBenitez_HAVO_Ecologist_556
Hawaiʻi Volcanoes Ecologist David Benitez monitors SO2
NPS Photo

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Date: May 7, 2012
Contact: Jessica Ferracane, 808-985-6018

Hawaii National Park, HI -Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park has earned the national Safety and Health Group Award from the National Park Service for its work in monitoring air quality within the park, and communicating the information to the public and employees. 

In 2011, the park's air quality (AQ) team installed seven stations that measure at 15-minute intervals sulfur dioxide (SO2) downwind of Kīlauea's two active locations at Halemaʻumaʻu and Puʻu ʻŌʻō. The findings are monitored and shared in real time at http://www.hawaiiso2network.com/.

The site offers a multitude of data, including AQ findings, weather conditions and wind direction, links to other AQ sites for the state and Hawaiʻi Island, and the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory webcams and updates.

The team also established an AQ Policy to guide corrective actions within the park, including temporary area closures as necessary to protect visitors and staff from dangerous fumes. In addition, mobile hand-held monitors, or gas badges, are used by field crews.

"Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park has the highest average SO2 levels in the National Park Service due to ongoing volcanic activity, a natural event," said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. "Our air quality program is a model for naturally occurring SO2 emission management nationally. With a solid communications system in place, visitors can safely visit our fascinating World Heritage Site on Hawaiʻi Island," she said.

Park visitors, staff and the public are also alerted by mobile electronic road signs that are programmed to convey real time AQ conditions. Monitors displaying the AQ website are also available for the public and staff inside the Kīlauea Visitor Center, on the visitor center lānai (accessible 24 hours a day), and at Jaggar Museum.

The AQ team is comprised of staff from Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, the Air Resources Division of the National Park Service, the Hawaiʻi Pacific Parks Association and the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

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The Kamehameha Butterfly is orange and black, with white spots.

Only two butterflies found in Hawai`i are native. The Kamehameha Butterfly (Vanessa tameamea) is Hawai`i's state insect, brightly colored, and larger than the Blackburn's blue (Udara blackburni).