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Cane smoke is harming Maui’s health

December 20, 2012
Karen Chun - Pa‘ia , The Maui Weekly

I see HC&S spokesperson Koa Martin has conveniently neglected the mountains of scientific data showing that cane burning is damaging to people's lungs as he defends cane burning.

Do you think it was the chemical companies who stopped dumping their waste into rivers on their own? Or do you think maybe it was the people getting sick and who ignored advice like Martin's--"to tell anyone how they should be doing business and how they should be harvesting and processing a plant to which they have no experience with is just absurd"--who got it stopped?

Martin challenges us to produce evidence, and we have produced numerous scientific studies showing that smoke causes health damage. (See

A&B (HC&S) claims it can't make a profit harvesting without burning. But my health is not for trade for A&B's profit or Martin's job.

I'm glad that Martin and his family are healthy, even though they breathe smoke. I like his family and would never wish upon them the disease I got from cane burning.

But statistically, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Maui keiki have a 2 percent higher rate of asthma than the rest of Hawai'i. This pretty much takes vog out of the calculation and leaves cane smoke as the culprit. Maui is the last island to allow cane burning.

The CDC isn't saying that everyone gets asthma. It just means that more of us do. I'm one of them. And the rest of those complaining are suffering, too. It hits the children and older people hardest.

Koa, you are young and bless you for not getting sick. But don't let that make you heartless to those who are.

Maui residents and visitors, when you get exposed to cane smoke, please report it by going to and using the handy, one-click email link. Together, we can get this exploitive practice stopped and breathe easier.

Karen Chun




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