Hawaii’s Air Quality Still Best in Latest American Lung Association State Of The Air 2021 Report

Honolulu County and Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina rank at top of cleanest air regions.

This year’s “State of the Air” report from the American Lung Association finds that Honolulu’s rankings were the best in the nation for the most harmful and widespread types of air pollution: particle pollution and ozone. The Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina geographic area ranked as the number two cleanest for year-round particle pollution in the nation when ranked against all such regions in the United States. See the full report at Lung.org/sota.

“People in Hawaii are breathing some of the cleanest air in the nation, but increasing climate change is threatening our air quality,” said Pedro Haro, Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Hawaii. “While we should be happy with the results of this report, people in Hawaii must remain vigilant when phenomena that threaten our clean air occur, such as unhealthy “vog” episodes. It’s due to vog that Hawaii County doesn’t share the same clean air that we see on Oahu and Maui.”

Ozone Pollution in Honolulu
Compared to the 2020 report, Honolulu once again experienced zero unhealthy days of high ozone during the period examined in this year’s report. 

Particle Pollution in Honolulu
“State of the Air” 2021 found that year-round particle pollution levels in Honolulu maintained similar levels as last year’s report. The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. The report found that Honolulu had zero days of unhealthy category short-term particle pollution as well as zero unhealthy air days due to ozone pollution.

The year’s report found that nationwide, more than 4 in 10 people (135 million) lived with polluted air, placing their health and lives at risk. The report also shows that people of color were 61% more likely to live in a county with unhealthy air than white people, and three times more likely to live in a county that failed all three air quality grades. The report also finds that climate change has made air quality worse and harder to clean up.

The Lung Association’s annual air quality “report card” tracks and grades Americans’ exposure to unhealthful levels of particle pollution (also known as soot) and ozone (smog) over a three-year period – this year’s report covers 2017-2019. The report analyzes particle pollution in two ways: average annual levels and short-term spikes. Both ozone and particle pollution can cause premature death and other serious health effects such as asthma attacks and cardiovascular damage and are linked to developmental and reproductive harm. Particle pollution can also cause lung cancer.

Learn more about “State of the Air” at Lung.org/sota and sign the petition to urge the Biden Administration to promote clean air, a safe climate and environmental justice.

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