Hawai’i New Year’s Air Quality Continues to Improve

January 15, 2013, 10:18 AM HST · Updated January 15, 12:37 PM
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Fireworks on Maui. Photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

The Hawaii Department of Health, Clean Air Branch is reporting lower levels of smoke on Oahu from fireworks during the 2013 New Year period.

Officials say the lower particulate levels coincide with reduced fireworks activity that occurred upon the implementation of a ban on certain types of fireworks in 2011 on the island of Oahu.

Particulate levels in all areas monitored this year, including Kihei on Maui, were measured at 15 micrograms per cubic meters (µg/m3) or lower—that’s below the national standard of 35 µg/m3 averaged over 24 hours.

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A total of six air monitoring stations were included in the reports: (4) on Oahu in Honolulu, Pearl City, Sand Island and Kapolei; (1) on Kauai at Niumalu; and (1) on Maui in Kihei.

State health officials say fireworks smoke consists primarily of fine particulate matter which can penetrate into the lungs and aggravate existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Prior to the Oahu ban, during the 2011 New Year’s period, the highest recorded particulate levels on Oahu were 36 µg/m3 in Pearl City and 32 µg/m3 in Kapolei.  The particulate levels dropped in the first year after the ban with levels ranging from 6 µg/m3 to 16 µg/m3, with the highest recorded particulate level of 16 µg/m3 in Niumalu.

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Health Department officials say that air quality is greatly influenced by the amount of fireworks burned in the area, as well as weather conditions such as wind and rain, and the land configuration.

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