The other day, while I was running, I felt an unwelcome but all too familiar scratch in my throat. Then, the shortness of breath started. I’ve had asthma my whole life, but it hasn’t affected me while running since I was a kid — unless it’s voggy out. It was then that I looked up and saw the vog in the air and realized that was exactly what was happening. I slowed down and walked home.

When I got home, I realized that this was my safe zone. I needed to do what I could to make my home as vog-free as possible. Dealing with vog, which is volcanic air pollution, is one of the small prices we pay to live in paradise. But the good news is that there are things we can do around the home to minimize vog’s presence.

Dust off. Household dust can trigger reactions like runny noses, itchy, watery eyes and wheezing or shortness of breath — all of which vog can cause as well. Clean up the dust to minimize these effects. Use natural, gentle cleaning methods like hot water and vinegar on hard surfaces. Wash bedding at least once a week. Vacuum carpet and take rugs outside to beat the dust out of them.


Cut out the toxins. Certain pollutants can exacerbate vog’s impacts on your body. Do what you can to limit these by avoiding harsh chemicals like those in some cleaning products, paint, and smoke.

Make it rain. Hawaii Health Guide says that the ammonium sulfate in vog is water-soluble. Therefore, water can “wash” the air. Unfortunately, vog can prevent rain. In your home, you can fake the effect with a mister. I like adding peppermint oil to mine to help with congestion and breathing. Hawaii Health Guide suggests hanging up sheets soaked in baking soda and water, about 1 teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in 1 liter of water. They say this can help to trap aerosols and gases.

Clear the air. If you have it, use air conditioning or an air purifier. Make sure air filters are clean. Use a fan if air conditioning or an air purifier is not an option. Make sure the fan blades are clean of dust. Hawaii Health Guide also recommends placing a wet towel or cheesecloth over the fan.

Have a question or comment for Joanne? Email her at