East Hawaii News

Air Quality Remains ‘Good’ Despite Lava

November 13, 2014, 1:30 PM HST
* Updated November 13, 1:37 PM
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The Hawai’i County Department of Health’s Clean Air Branch, along with Hawai’i County Civil Defense, have been closely monitoring the smoke conditions and potential health hazard impacts that the June 27 lava flow could pose.

Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira described in a Thursday briefing that the DOH currently has air quality monitoring stations up that are able to provide information on the air quality in the area. These stations have been up and running since Oct. 10 and have not detected any unsafe levels throughout the duration of the lava flow and burning.

The stations are located at the Hawai’i Academy of Arts and Science, as well as at Pahoa High School. An additional monitoring station is planned for the Leilani Sulfur dioxide monitoring station, at Civil Defense’s request.

According to Oliveira, using the Cal Fire Air Quality standards that are used during brush fires in California, the area surrounding where lava is burning has not exceeded any of the conditions that would put the air quality into an unhealthy range. “We are remaining in the good air quality, even with the smoke that’s present out there.”

The DOH has a goal to try to make the information from the monitoring stations available to the general public through an online platform. Currently, the information is able to be downloaded by officials from the units at the two established sites but the information does not have an online platform to share with the community.

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Civil Defense submitted a request for the platform and Oliveira says it is in the works. Once completed, it should provide hourly and 24 hour averages of air quality conditions. An online platform would aid the community in having a general idea and expected forecast of air quality conditions.

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“We’d like to give the community the opportunity to make decisions ahead of time, rather than waiting until they are feeling the effects or symptoms,” Oliveira stated.

It is in the forecast that winds over the next few days will blow in a southern direction, blowing smoke in the Ainaloa, Hawaiian Paradise Park, Kea’au and Hilo areas. Individuals who have a history of respiratory issues or sensitivities have been advised by Civil Defense to take necessary precautions and remain indoors.

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