Hazy Skies and Light Winds Expected During New Year Celebration

December 31, 2009, 11:15 AM HST · Updated December 31, 3:36 PM
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The Hawai‘i State Department of Health’s (DOH) Clean Air Branch will be monitoring Hawai’i’s air quality during New Year’s and comparing it with national ambient air quality standards.

Health officials say the heavy use of fireworks during the annual holiday celebration can significantly increase the amount of particulates in the air, especially on Oahu. The public is encouraged to be properly informed and prepared for the New Year’s fireworks celebrations as well as possible temporary increases in vog levels.

The National Weather Service is forecasting hazy skies and light winds, which could pose problems for those with breathing problems as others ring in the New Year with fireworks. Firefighters will not get much help from the weather either as very little rainfall is expected. The forecast calls for widespread haze and light and variable winds across the island of Maui and much of the state.

Firework smoke consists primarily of particulate matter that can aggravate conditions such as asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. Those who suffer from any of these lung conditions can take the following precautionary measures:

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• On New Year’s Eve, stay indoors and close your windows and doors.

• Check that your air conditioner or air purifier is working properly, change filters if necessary.

• Do not smoke and avoid second-hand smoke.

• If you take medication, make sure you have an adequate supply and use them as directed by your physician.

• Contact your physician if you need more medication and get clear instructions of what to do if your lung condition suddenly worsens.

• Avoid people who have colds and other lung infections and wash your hands thoroughly.

• Drink plenty of fluids to loosen mucus. Warm beverages work best.

• Get plenty of rest and limit physical exertion.

While these suggestions are intended primarily for persons with respiratory or chronic lung disease, they are also useful for healthy persons during air pollution episodes such as particulates dust, brush fires, firework smoke, or volcanic haze.

(Posted by Wendy Osher)

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