Hawaii Ranks First for Health in the Nation

Hawaii is ranked as the healthiest state according to the United Health Foundation’s 2016 America’s Health Rankings®: A Call to Action for Individuals & Their Communities released today. This year is the 27th anniversary of the rankings, which provide a state-by-state analysis of available health data to determine national benchmarks and state rankings. During the 27 years in which the rankings were conducted, Hawaii’s rank has varied from first to sixth place.

“The department is pleased with Hawaii’s top ranking which reflects our state’s focus on maintaining healthy lifestyles and protecting our environment,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler. “However, while our state scored well among most of the report’s measures, we must remember that some health areas and population groups are not always captured in the data. We need to pay attention to groups that aren’t enjoying good health status so that everyone has the opportunity to live a healthy and full life.”

Recent health improvements in Hawaii described in the report include a 4 percent decrease in drug-related deaths over the last two years, and a 38 percent increase in vaccination against human papilloma virus (HPV) among girls 13 to 17 years old in the last year. Hawaii also has low percentage of population without insurance with only 5 percent (or about 1 in 20 people) lacking health insurance, compared with over 10 percent nationally.

While Hawaii has fared well compared to other states, the report is limited by available data, such as low screening rates for some health conditions. According to the report, diabetes is said to have decreased by 13 percent over the last year, however the data reflects only diagnosed cases of diabetes. When including undiagnosed diabetes and prediabetes, it is estimated that more than half (54 percent) of Hawaii’s population has type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.

“We are only now beginning to understand the pervasiveness of type 2 diabetes in our state,” said Lola Irvin, Administrator for the Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division.
“As we improve screening rates, we expect to see a sharp increase in the number of people living with diabetes and prediabetes.”

Highlights of Hawaii’s health ranking include a low prevalence of obesity at 23 percent compared with 30 percent nationally. However, when including those who are overweight, more than half of Hawaii’s adult population (57 percent) is overweight or obese. Obesity is associated with a higher risk of preventable chronic disease, including type 2 diabetes.  Among some population groups, Hawaii data shows a high correlation between obesity rates and diagnosed diabetes and prediabetes rates, with Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders (NHOPI) and Filipinos having the highest rates. More than 61% of Hawaii adults—or 3 in 5—are living with at least one chronic disease or condition such as diabetes, heart disease or cancer.

The report shows that other areas where Hawaii can improve include higher-than-average rates of excessive drinking, a recent increase in violent crimes, and high rates of Salmonella infection. Details of the determinants and outcomes that make up Hawaii’s top ranking are available at www.americashealthrankings.org.

New Map of 61G Lava Flow Released

This map shows recent changes to Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone lava flow field. The area of the active flow field as of November 29 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as of December 14, based on satellite imagery, is shown in red. Older Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows (1983–2016) are shown in gray.

The blue lines over the Puʻu ʻŌʻō flow field are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 2013 digital elevation model (DEM), while the blue lines on the rest of the map are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 1983 DEM (for calculation details, see http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/). Steepest-descent path analysis is based on the assumption that the DEM perfectly represents the earth’s surface. DEMs, however, are not perfect, so the blue lines on this map can be used to infer only approximate flow paths. The base map is a partly transparent 1:24,000-scale USGS digital topographic map draped over the 1983 10-m digital elevation model (DEM).

Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage Update – Hokulea Homecoming Scheduled

The Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines today announced that iconic voyaging canoe Hokulea is scheduled to return to the Hawaiian Islands in June 2017.  On Saturday, June 17, Polynesian Voyaging Society and its crew members will conclude the three-year sail around the globe and make an historic arrival at Oahu’s Magic Island after sailing nearly 40,000 nautical miles since departing Hawaiian waters on May 30, 2014. Themed Lei Kaapuni Honua, meaning “A Lei Around The World,” Hokulea’s homecoming celebration will include a cultural welcoming ceremony followed by a hoolaulea at Magic Island.  A series of additional homecoming events are being planned during the week following the June 17 arrival event.

“When Hokulea first set sail on the Worldwide Voyage, our mission was to seek out and share stories of hope that would inspire a movement to strengthen the health and well-being of Island Earth,” said Nainoa Thompson, president of Polynesian Voyaging Society. “Our vision is that this Voyage of a 1,000 stories will launch 10,000 voyages needed to protect and care for Hawaii and the world,” he added.

Leading up to the homecoming in June, Polynesian Voyaging Society will be highlighting stories of schools, organizations and local individuals that have taken lessons from the Worldwide Voyage to launch efforts that further care for the world’s natural and cultural environments.

At the completion of the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines, Hokulea and Hikianalia will have covered approximately 60,000 nautical miles, over 150 ports, 27 nations and approximately seven of UNESCO’S Marine World Heritage sites. Along the way, over 300 experienced volunteer crew members have helped to sail the vessel and connect with more than 100,000 people throughout the world in communities across the South Pacific, Tasman Sea, Indian Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea, including Samoa, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Australia, Indonesia, Mauritius, South Africa, Brazil, U.S. Virgin Islands, Cuba, the East Coast of the United States and Canada. Currently, Hokulea is in Miami and is scheduled to depart for Panama in a few days. The canoe will transit through the Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean and will make stops in the Galapagos Islands, Rapa Nui and French Polynesia before returning home to Hawaii.

The mission of the Voyage is to spread the message of Malama Honua (caring for Island Earth) by promoting environmental consciousness, fostering learning environments, bringing together island communities and to grow a global movement toward a more sustainable world. The Voyage has sought to engage the public by practicing how to live sustainably while sharing Polynesian culture, learning from the past and from each other, creating global relationships, and discovering the wonders of Island Earth.

After returning to Hawaii, the crew will sail Hokulea and Hikianalia around the Hawaiian Islands to visit communities and share stories and lessons learned on the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage.  For updates on the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage homecoming, visit www.hokulea.com/home .

Volunteers Sought to Restore Hawaiian Rainforest

Help ensure the future of the Hawaiian rainforest at the summit of Kīlauea volcano and volunteer for “Stewardship at the Summit” programs in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, January through March 2017.

Stewardship at the Summit begins at 9 a.m. and ends at noon. The dates January through March are: January 6, 14, 21 and 27; February 3, 11, 18 and 20 (Presidents Day and fee-free); and March 3, 10, 18, 25 and 31.

A volunteer frees a native pa‘iniu (Astelia menziesiana), a member of the lily family, from a patch of invasive ginger.
NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

Volunteers help remove invasive, non-native plant species that prevent native plants from growing. Meet project leaders Paul and Jane Field at Kīlauea Visitor Center at 8:45 a.m. on any of the above dates. Wear sturdy hiking shoes and long pants. Bring a hat, raingear, day pack, snacks and water. Gloves and tools are provided. No advance registration is required, and there is no cost to participate, but park entrance fees apply. Visit the park website for additional planning details: https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/summit_stewardship.htm.

Volunteers have dedicated more than 7,500 hours of their time, and have restored more than 61 acres of native rainforest within the national park since 2012. Countless Himalayan ginger, faya, Australian tree fern, strawberry guava, and other invasive, non-native plants that threaten the native understory near the summit of Kīlauea volcano have been removed. In their place, once-shaded ‘ōhi‘a trees, ‘ama‘u and hāpu‘u tree ferns have re-emerged, and pa‘iniu, kāwa‘u, and other important native plants are returning to the stewardship plots.

“Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has entered its 100th year of stewarding this fragile ecosystem, and we need everyone’s help in making sure the Hawaiian rainforest remains intact beyond the next 100 years,” said volunteer and project leader, Paul Field. “We invite the community and visitors to join us. In addition to giving back to the land, you’ll learn to identify native and invasive plants, how to safely control invasive species, and how to avoid spreading other pest species, including Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death,” he said.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park provides numerous ways for visitors to connect with and appreciate Hawaiian culture, active volcanoes, and native plants and animals. It is a designated World Heritage Site (1987) and International Biosphere Reserve (1980).

EPA Files Complaint Against Syngenta for Farmworker Safety Violations on Kauai

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has filed a complaint alleging that Syngenta Seeds, LLC violated numerous federal pesticide regulations meant to protect agricultural workers at its crop research farm in Kekaha, Kauai. EPA is seeking civil penalties of over $4.8 million for the violations.

Click to read full lawsuit

On January 20, 2016, 19 workers entered a Syngenta field recently sprayed with a restricted use organophosphate insecticide. Ten of these workers were taken to a nearby hospital for medical treatment. Restricted use pesticides are not available to the general public because of their high toxicity, potential for harm and impact on the environment.

“Reducing pesticide exposure is a high priority, as it directly affects the health of farmworkers,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “EPA is committed to enforcing the federal law that protects those who spend long hours in the fields. We appreciate working with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture to respond to this serious incident.”

The company named in the complaint does business as Syngenta Hawaii, LLC., a subsidiary of Syngenta AG, a global enterprise that produces chemicals and seeds. The EPA complaint states that Syngenta misused the pesticide “Lorsban Advanced,” and it failed in its duties to adequately implement the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act’s Worker Protection Standard.

Specifically, EPA alleges that Syngenta failed to notify its workers to avoid fields recently treated with pesticides. The company then allowed or directed workers to enter the treated field before the required waiting period had passed, and without proper personal protective equipment. After the workers’ exposure, Syngenta failed to provide adequate decontamination supplies onsite and failed to provide prompt transportation for emergency medical attention.

An inspector from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture was present at the Syngenta facility when the exposure incident occurred, prompting the State’s immediate investigation. In March, HDOA referred the matter to EPA for follow-up investigation and enforcement. In April, EPA inspectors conducted a series of inspections, which led to the complaint.

The active ingredient in “Lorsban Advanced” is chlorpyrifos, which in small amounts may cause a runny nose, tears, sweating, or headache, nausea and dizziness. More serious exposures can cause vomiting, muscle twitching, tremors and weakness. Sometimes people develop diarrhea or blurred vision. In severe cases, exposure can lead to unconsciousness, loss of bladder and bowel control, convulsions, difficulty in breathing, and paralysis. Symptoms can appear within minutes and may last days or weeks.

For EPA’s complaint please visit: https://www.epa.gov/hi/matter-syngenta-seeds-llc-dba-syngenta-hawaii-llc

For more information on pesticide Worker Protection Standard visit: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-worker-safety/agricultural-worker-protection-standard-wps

‘Alalā Released Into Natural Area Reserve

Five young ‘Alalā—critically endangered Hawaiian crows—were released into Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve on the Big Island of Hawai‘i on Dec, 14. The group of male birds took a few minutes to emerge from the aviary where they had been temporarily housed, and they appeared to show a natural curiosity for their surroundings.

“After being released, the ‘Alalā quickly adjusted to their new home, and began to search for and find food items in the forest,” said Bryce Masuda, conservation program manager of the Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program. “Although the birds have now been released, we will continue to monitor them and provide appropriate supplemental food, to ensure they are supported as they encounter challenges.”

The birds were moved to a flight aviary in mid-October, to allow them to acclimate to the sights and sounds of the Hawaiian forest, in preparation for their release. They were then transferred to a smaller aviary in the forest one week prior to the release, from which they were directly released. Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve is an area that conservationists have worked to preserve, protecting native plants and species, and it represents the type of habitat where ‘Alalā originally lived before their numbers began to decline.

“Decades of intensive management by the Three Mountain Alliance watershed partnership have led to the preservation of some of the most intact native-dominated wet and mesic forest on windward Hawai‘i Island, known as Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve,” said Jackie Gaudioso-Levita, project coordinator of the ‘Alalā Project.

The ‘Alalā, or Hawaiian crow, has been extinct in the wild since 2002, preserved only at the Keauhou and Maui Bird Conservation Centers managed by San Diego Zoo Global. With more than 100 individuals of the species now preserved at the centers, conservationists are ready to return the birds to their native forests. ‘Alalā are an important part of the life of the Hawaiian forest, as they eat and assist with the dispersal of native plant seeds. The reintroduction of this species, which has been gone from the forest for more than a decade, is expected to play an important part in the overall recovery of the ecosystem. ‘Alalā are not only ecologically significant as dispersers of Hawai’i’s native plants, but they also hold significant value in Hawaiian culture. Before the birds were released, a traditional oli, or blessing, was offered members of the ‘Alalā Project.

The mission of the Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources is to enhance, protect, conserve and manage Hawaii’s unique and limited natural, cultural and historic resources, held in public trust for current and future generations of the people of Hawai’i and its visitors, in partnership with others from the public and private sectors.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The mission of the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office is to conserve and restore native biodiversity and ecological integrity of Pacific island ecosystems for the benefit of present and future generations through leadership, science-based management and collaborative partnerships.

Alala-Hack Tower Transfer Day from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.