Air Quality
Updated over a week ago

The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) is working closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to collect and analyze air quality monitoring data. The agencies have announced that results from preliminary air sampling and air monitoring conducted in Lahaina and Upcountry Maui are reassuring. The results do not show evidence of poor air quality or any hazardous levels of contaminants in the air at the time the samples were collected.

According to the DOH, typical air monitoring is indicative of the ambient air quality, and high winds or cleanup activities could cause dust and ash to become airborne. DOH and EPA continue to closely monitor air quality as re-entry, cleanup, and debris removal activities take place.

To mitigate re-entry and cleanup impacts on air quality, the EPA applied Soiltac, a soil stabilizer, to the ash and debris footprints of burned buildings and vehicles. According to the EPA, the application of this stabilizer minimizes the movement of ash, debris, and contaminants through the air, land, and water, helping to protect the impacted and surrounding environment.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is coordinating with federal, state and local partners to conduct the government-sponsored debris removal program. During debris removal work, USACE coordinates environmental testing and uses best management practices for removing debris to mitigate impacts to air quality. All debris removal is required to adhere to these standards. This includes expediting the removal of ash and debris to minimize environmental impacts.

DOH continues to urge Maui residents to wear a high-quality mask, such as an N95 mask, and other personal protective equipment when in impacted areas. Precautions should also continue to be taken in nearby areas should the air quality change due to disturbed ash from an impacted area.

Air Quality Testing Information

According to the DOH and EPA, in addition to baseline air sampling conducted, EPA and DOH installed 13 real-time PM2.5 sensors in Lahaina and Upcountry Maui following the wildfires. The monitors scan for a very fine, dust-like material called “Particulate Matter” or PM 2.5, which is indicative of ash and dust.

Contaminants of concern, such as metals like lead or arsenic, stick to the pieces of ash and dust that register as particulate matter. Because of this, air monitoring for PM2.5 can be used as an indicator for contaminant monitoring. If PM2.5 measurements are not above typical baseline levels (remain in the green zone), then ash and dust from the impacted areas, with their associated contaminants, are not in the air in any measurable amount that would be considered harmful.

Air Quality Resources

Individuals can access air quality monitoring data in real-time using the EPA’s air monitoring website:

Information released by the DOH provides further details on testing methodology.

The DOH provides Air Quality Monitoring/Smoke and Dust Advisory information on the Environmental & Hazard Concerns portion of their website.

The EPA website provides Maui Wildfire-specific information, including further information onSoiltac.

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