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Maui’s air quality nets ‘A’ as best in state

May 2, 2013
The Maui Weekly

Maui received an "A" grade for air quality--the best in the state--in an American Lung Association (ALA) national report.

In the "State of the Air 2013" report released in April, Honolulu received a "B" while Hawai'i County received an "F" in the particle pollution 24-hour category.

The state branch of the ALA attributed Hawai'i Island's failing grade to air quality monitors that are downwind of Kilauea's active volcano.

Article Photos

Even as some Maui residents complain about cane burning, dust from various fallow agricultural fields, and ongoing vog conditions, the American Lung Association’s recently released “State of the Air 2013” report that gave Maui an “A” grade for its air quality in the particle pollution 24-hour category.
Photo: Debra Lordan

On Maui, national air quality standards are based on 24-hour averages. Cane burning and agricultural dust problems do not occur for long enough periods to affect the averages. There are no standards for particulate matter for less than 24 hours.

Air quality monitoring stations are located in Kihei and in Paia. Although some residents have complained that the longtime Kihei monitoring station is in the wrong place, the state Department of Health's Clean Air Branch said the station is in the most logical location, because most of the island's air pollution naturally flows down to South Maui. It also is in a place that is dry and dusty, so it would have the best chance of picking up particle pollution.

In April, readings at the Kihei station ranged from a low of 5 micrograms per cubic meter to a high of 12 micrograms per cubic meter, meaning that the averages over a 24-hour period were not even close to exceeding national standards.

Although volcanic gas emissions from Kilauea volcano create vog that impacts Maui and other islands if the trade winds stop or if wind blows Kona (southerly), "people should be assured that Hawai'i's overall air quality is good, said ALA member Steve Businger. "I don't think people need to worry unless they happen to be very sensitive to vog."



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