Maui News

New Year’s Air Quality Improves with Fireworks Restrictions

January 19, 2012, 11:58 AM HST
* Updated January 19, 11:59 AM
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Maui fireworks, file photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

The level of smoke from New Year’s fireworks was significantly lower on Oahu, but increased slightly on Maui compared to year before levels.

While Maui levels were higher than last year, they were still lower than other locations throughout the state.

Officials with the Hawai’i State Department of Health (DOH) Clean Air Branch say the decrease on Oahu coincided with reduced fireworks activity resulting from the ban on certain fireworks.  Maui was not included in the ban.

At the Maui monitoring station, located at Hale Piilani Park in Kihei, the highest level of particulates was recorded during the midnight hour between Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, when 27 PM2.5 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) was measured.

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Over a 24 hour period, the levels on Maui were 7 µg/m3 on December 31, 2011, and 6 µg/m3 on January 1, 2012.

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The particulate matter from fireworks smoke, health officials say, can aggravate existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.

The highest recorded particulate levels in the state were at 1 a.m. in Pearl City when the monitoring rose to 109 µg/m3.  Over a 24 hour period, the highest levels were in Honolulu and Kauai on January 1, 2012 where particulate levels were measured at 15 µg/m3 and 16 µg/m3 respectively.

That’s below the national standard of 35 µg/m averaged over 24 hours.  Pearl City surpassed that level last year with 40 μg/m3 recorded on December 31, 2010 and 36 μg/m3 on January 1, 2011; and Kapolei came close at 32 µg/m last year.    Both locations saw a dramatic increase to 10 µg/m or lower in 2012.

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This was the first year that the Niumalu station on Kaua’i was included on the list.

DOH officials say the use of fireworks during the New Year’s celebration will always affect the air quality, but the degree of impact for any location is greatly influence by weather conditions such as wind, rain, configuration of the land, and the amount of fireworks burned in an area.

*** Supporting information courtesy Hawaii State Department of Health.

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