New Year's mars otherwise clean air
Honolulu is the third-cleanest city in the nation for long-term air pollution but drew a "D" grade for 24-hour particle pollution during New Year's fireworks, the American Lung Association reported today.
In other findings in the association's annual State of the Air report, Maui County is the fifth-cleanest among the nation's counties for year-round particle pollution and Honolulu County ranks 11th.
Honolulu was among only 34 major cities with no smog, or monitored ozone air pollution, in unhealthy ranges, according to the association.
Despite the city's good ranking in long-term particulate pollution and ozone categories, the "D" grade for 24-hour particle pollution on New Year's is a black mark, said Sterling Yee, ALA of Hawaii president.
"Short-term exposure to particle pollution can kill," he said in a news release. "Deaths can occur on the very day that particle levels are high or within one to two months afterward.
"Particulate pollution is the worst type of pollution because particles become embedded deep in the lung, decreasing lung efficiency," Yee said. Gaseous pollution, such as carbon monoxide oxide or smog, are discharged more easily from the lungs, he said.
Yee said hundreds of thousands of Isle residents are vulnerable to particulate pollution, which can shorten lives, especially among people at risk from chronic diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
He said the association nationally is seeking stronger regulation of pollution sources while the Hawaii organization is focusing efforts on trying to reduce New Year's fireworks pollution because of the threat to public health.
He said the association supports strict enforcement of existing fireworks-related laws.