Cane Smoke & Dust on Maui

Clean Air for Keiki
A Project of the Maui Tomorrow Foundation

The scientific evidence of harm from particulate (smoke and dust) pollution has mounted. Keiki on Maui are subjected to serious air pollution. Some we can’t do anything about like vog. But some we can reduce like cane smoke and fugitive dust.

Nearly 2,000 peer reviewed medical articles establish that smoke, like that from sugarcane field burning, causes or exacerbates severe health problems, including asthma and increased risk of death from heart attack and stroke, as well as common respiratory problems, and eye and nasal irritation.

The CDC says that asthma rates for our Maui keiki are 2% higher than the state average. This would tend to support the hypothesis that the one pollutant that is found only on Maui could be at fault: Cane smoke.

Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar (HC&S) has been profiting from burning sugar cane on Maui for decades. HC&S burns one-half of its 36,000 acres of cane fields every year, usually from March through November. In 2012, burning extended into December.

In its most recent financial report, the HC&S’s parent company, Alexander & Baldwin, stated that “improvements in yields and higher sugar prices helped us achieve an operating profit of $22 million in 2011, over three times greater than 2010′s results and the highest level in over a decade.” [A&B Annual Reports]

Aren’t our keiki more valuable than HC&S profit? Isn’t it time to end the unhealthy practice of cane burning and harvest without burning as Australia and Brazil are doing?