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Kona Air Quality PR Event
As you may have read in the local paper, the County held a public relations event at the Civic Center on Wednesday, to quell public dissatisfaction with the perceived lax performance of authorities and to gloss over the air quality issue in the interest of tourism. Three aspects of the presentations are noteworthy.
First, the existing "monitors" for Kona are installed at Energy Lab Beach and Waikaloa Beach (!) Great, if you live at one of these windy beaches. On a positive note, one presenter stated that MIT will be installing monitors in a few locations for where people actually live.
Second, it was stated that the volcanic emissions we are experiencing are only harmful to people with existing respiratory problems, omitting the fact that the "at risk" group at the "moderate" level of toxicity also includes children 14 and under and adults 60 and over; i.e. over half of the population in Kona. An innocent oversight, no doubt. No one was interested in discussing the fact that several studies published in scientific journals based on medical evaluation have established that even short-term exposure to volcanic emissions increases the likelihood of contracting numerous serious medical conditions several years after exposure.
Third, was it out of arrogance that the presenters advised everybody to stay indoors with the windows closed and "avoid exertion," assuming that nobody in Kona works outside or has any other need to exert oneself outdoors? Of course not. They were just reading their prepared statements and, well, that was all they were prepared to do. It's their jobs: they're public relations people, not scientists.
One might surmise that such advice sends a chilling message not only to residents, but also to tourists and real estate buyers. How many people will be rushing to Kona to spend $4000 or more so their families can stay sequestered in a hotel room 24/7 with the windows closed and the air conditioning running?
The County also doesn't want people to purchase respirators or in-home air quality monitors, though both items are inexpensive and commonly available. Furthermore, they don't want people to use social media to obtain first-hand updates on air quality from other residents. Well, it's their jobs: limiting and suppressing public information is more important than alerting residents about health hazards.
Obviously, the entire island is in the midst of economic and public health disasters of historic proportions. It is entirely understandable that the presenters were anxious to give their canned presentations and get out of the room as fast as possible, fulfilling their duty to political campaign contributors from the tourism and construction industries. Well, it was rush hour.
I bought a respirator anyway, and I already own an air quality monitor.
Call me a rebel.
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