DOH releases preliminary, unvalidated data from Maui air sampling following wildfires
The Hawaiʻi Department of Health received access today to preliminary, unvalidated data of baseline air sampling conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency in Lahaina and Upcountry Maui.
Typically, preliminary data is not released as it has not undergone finalization by the lab and quality control/quality assurance validation by an independent third-party. However with EPA’s support, DOH is releasing the preliminary data in the interest of transparency.
To view the preliminary, unvalidated data, click on the links below:
DOH and EPA are working to analyze the data and will release a summary as soon as possible.
“We received access to the EPA’s preliminary data today and are working with our federal partners to analyze and interpret,” said Director of Health Dr. Kenneth Fink. “We understand there is a risk of confusion by releasing preliminary data and without a summary, but we are providing it to the public in the interest of transparency and we’ll work on releasing a summary as soon as possible.”
At the request of DOH and the County of Maui, EPA conducted baseline regulatory air quality monitoring and collected over 100 samples in the Lahaina and Upcountry Maui areas impacted by the wildfires. Baseline air quality monitoring included sampling for specific contaminants including fine particulates (PM2.5 and PM10), volatile organic compounds, asbestos, lead, and arsenic.
Air sampling involves collection of air for laboratory analysis. The purpose of air sampling is to measure how much of a specific contaminant is present in the air over a period of time.
The data released today are preliminary, unvalidated results that have not been finalized by the laboratory. Once the laboratory finalizes the data, it will be validated by an independent group to perform additional quality control/quality assurance checks. The data validation process could take several weeks.
Real-Time Air Quality Data on Maui
In addition to the laboratory testing, EPA and DOH installed 13 real-time PM2.5 sensors in Lahaina and Upcountry Maui following the wildfires. In addition to these sensors the DOH has permanent regulatory air quality monitoring stations collecting real-time PM2.5 data, one in Kahului and one in Kīhei. These monitors scan for a very fine, dust-like material called “Particulate Matter” or PM 2.5, which is indicative of ash and dust. Air quality data can be viewed at the AirNow Fire and Smoke Map at https://fire.airnow.gov/.
While the PM2.5 air quality sensors in Lāhainā and Upcountry Maui currently indicate the air quality is good, air quality sensors are indicators of the ambient air quality in the areas they are located. It is important to note that disturbances of burned debris may cause ash and dust to become airborne. Masks and other personal protective equipment continue to be recommended.