DIY Vog Diluter
You can also reduce your indoor exposure using something as simple as a fan: in this case, take a hand towel, or, better yet, a piece of cheesecloth, and saturate it with a thin paste of baking soda and water. Drape the cloth over the face of the fan and turn the fan on at a low or medium speed. The baking soda will neutralize the sulfur compounds and the moisture will help remove particles from the air. (You’ll need to keep the cloth damp at all times to ensure that it’s most effective but, as always when operating electrical appliances in the presence of water, be very careful not to get the fan motor wet.) This should reduce the amount of vog and gases in your indoor air and minimize the irritation from these compounds.
Of course, the EPA does not endorse any DIY methods. They recommend “Using a portable air cleaner and/or upgrading the air filter in your furnace or central heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system,” noting, however, that these portable air cleaners and HVAC filters “cannot remove all pollutants from the air.”
There is no way to stop volcanoes from emitting SO2, nor to control wind direction. However, there are several steps you can take to lessen the effects of the volcanic plume on yourself and your family.
- Stay indoors, and keep windows and doors shut tightly.
- If you have an air conditioner or dehumidifier, these can help to remove SO2 and sulfur aerosols from the air, because both devices condense moisture out of the air that the gases and the aerosol particles will dissolve into.
- If you don’t have either of these appliances, you can make your own inexpensive filtration system (pictured below), which uses baking soda (a base) to neutralize airborne sulfur compounds: as the fan passes room air over the moist baking soda, it will react with the acidic vog to neutralize it and dissolve it into the moisture in the cheesecloth. (Of course, this homemade remedy isn't perfect—but it should help!)
Steps to Build the Vog Diluter
- Pour baking soda into a pan.
- Add water.
- Mix with a spoon to create a paste or slurry.
- Soak cheesecloth in the slurry.
- Use clothespins to attach the soaked cheesecloth to the fan.
- Spray fresh water onto the cheesecloth periodically to ensure that there is sufficient moisture to dissolve the vog compounds.
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