East Hawaii News

REPORT: Big Island Air Quality Among the State’s Worst

April 20, 2016, 3:05 PM HST
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The rim of Kīlauea Volcano's summit caldera, normally clear on trade-wind days (left), became nearly obscured by vog (right) on some non-trade wind days beginning in 2008, when sulfur dioxide emissions from the volcano's summit increased to unusually high levels. USGS photo 2015 file photo.

The rim of Kīlauea Volcano’s summit caldera, normally clear on trade-wind days (left), became nearly obscured by vog (right) on some non-trade wind days beginning in 2008, when sulfur dioxide emissions from the volcano’s summit increased to unusually high levels. USGS photo 2015 file photo.

Honolulu was ranked as one of the country’s cleanest cities, as far as air quality, in a recent report release by the American Lung Association.

The 2016 “State of the Air” notes that Honolulu had no days when the ozone reached unhealthy levels during the study.

Hawai’i County received the lowest grade out of all of the state’s counties with a C for short-term particle pollution and a failing grade for year-round particle pollution.

Kaua’i received an “A” grade for short-term particle pollution, while Maui received a “B” grade for the same.

“Hawaiʻi’s air quality conditions are affected by our volcano”, said Kim Nguyen, Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Hawaiʻi, who noted that vog is an ongoing health issue for many Hawai’i residents and visitors.

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Information on air quality included in the report was obtained from the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality System.

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The report found that more than half of people in the U.S. live in counties that have unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution, totaling 166 million Americans.

“Thanks to cleaner power plants and cleaner vehicles, we see a continued reduction of ozone and year-round particle pollution in the 2016 ‘State of the Air’ report. However, climate change has increased the challenges to protecting public health,” said Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “There are still nearly 20 million people in the United States that live with unhealthful levels of all three measures of air pollution the report tracks: ozone, short-term and year-round particle pollution.”

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