New Year’s Air Quality and Fireworks-Related Injuries Continue to Improve on Oahu

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) Clean Air Branch measured low levels of smoke from fireworks during the 2014 New Year period, with particulate levels on Oahu showing continued improvement over years prior to the 2011 ban on certain fireworks on Oahu. The lower levels continue a trend that coincides with reduced fireworks activity resulting from the 2011 ban.

Hilo Bay Fireworks

The DOH measures particulate levels at four air monitoring stations on Oahu (Honolulu, Pearl City, Sand Island, and Kapolei). Fireworks smoke consist primarily of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), whichcan penetrate into the lungs and aggravate existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The PM 2.5 national standard is 35 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) averaged over 24 hours.

During the 2014 New Year period, the particulate levels were measured at 16 μg/m 3 or lower in all areas, with the highest recorded particulate level of 16 μg/m 3 in Pearl City. The particulate monitoring stations on Kauai (Niumalu), Maui (Paia and Kihei) and the Big Island (Hilo, Kona, Mountain View, Ocean View, Pahala, and Waikoloa) also measured levels below the standard.

The use of fireworks during the New Year’s celebration will always affect the air quality, but the degree of impact for any location is greatly influenced by weather conditions such as wind and rain, the amount of fireworks burned in the area, and the configuration of the land. New Year’s data is also available at the Clean Air Branch website at:

Information collected on fireworks-related injuries over the New Year period of Dec. 31-Jan. 2, show a total of 33 injuries treated in emergency rooms throughout the state. This is the second lowest total over the 14-year period data has been collected and a 17 percent decrease from the 40 injuries documented in the previous New Year period. Fireworks-related injuries continue to be relatively low on Oahu in the three years following a Honolulu County ordinance to regulate their use. The reduced number of injuries is particularly apparent among child-aged patients (under 18 years of age). The data was collected by the DOH Injury Prevention program from 22 emergency departments of all hospitals throughout the state and the Hana and Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Centers.

Newly Enacted Medical Marijuana Bill Refocuses on Compassionate Treatment in Hawaii

Medical Marijuana moves from the public safety side of things to the health side of things.

Medical Marijuana moves from the public safety side of things to the health side of things.

Health Committee Chair Representative Della Au Belatti (Makiki, Tantalus, Papakolea, McCully, Pawaa, Manoa) issued the following statement regarding this afternoon’s signing of Senate Bill 642 and House Bill 668, bills relating to the administration of medical marijuana:

“Today’s bills represent a significant step forward in improving Hawaii’s medical marijuana program and aligning it with best practices of medical cannabis programs in other states.  By refocusing the program on medical matters such as the role of the primary physician and the role of the Department of Health in providing regulation and program oversight, the State can better ensure the compassionate treatment of people suffering from debilitating health conditions.”


Governor Abercrombie Signs Bill Vital to Hawaii’s Honeybee Industry

In conjunction with “Hawaii Pollinator Week,” which recognizes the role of honeybees and other primary pollinators as essential to many agricultural and horticultural operations, Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed Senate Bill 482 into law to ensure the continued viability of honeybee operations in the state.

Gov. Abercrombie holds up the proclamation

Gov. Abercrombie holds up the proclamation

“We must encourage beekeeping operations of all sizes to ensure that honeybee stocks thrive in both managed apiaries and the wild, especially as bee populations have declined due to disease and invasive predators,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “SB482 will make beekeeping more financially viable for beekeepers to legally extract, bottle and sell honey by minimizing unnecessary administrative and bureaucratic requirements in ways that will not affect public safety.”

SB482, enacted today as Act 131, clarifies the maximum number of gallons of honey that can be sold by a certified honey house or food processing establishment without obtaining a permit from the state Department of Health (DOH). The measure also exempts from permit requirement sales of honey directly to retail stores that, in turn, sell the honey directly to consumers. In addition, the act provides for consumer protections by requiring honey producers to include appropriate labeling of each container of honey, take a food safety class, and make records available to DOH.

“Many small beekeepers have been unable to successfully navigate current regulatory hurdles required to operate a certified food-processing establishment on their own premises for the extraction and bottling of honey, which has resulting in many giving up beekeeping entirely,” said Hawaii Board of Agriculture Chairperson Russell S. Kokubun. “SB482 provides needed clarification to state law and greater flexibility to Hawaii’s honeybee farmers as not only a growing facet of our local agriculture industry but also a fundamental part of the long-term sustainability of the industry and the protection of our native habitats.”

Bee Polinator Week

After signing the bill, Gov. Abercrombie officially proclaimed June 17 through 23 “Hawaii Pollinator Week” to recognize the vital role of bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles in maintaining healthy, diverse ecosystems and productive farms in Hawaii and elsewhere throughout the world. Through the observance, all citizens are encouraged to be mindful of the habitats and public lands, such as forests and grasslands, and the conservation assistance provided by the State of Hawaii to promote wise conservation stewardship, including the protection and maintenance of pollinators.

Pollinator Week was first designated by the U.S. Senate and U.S. Department of Agriculture in June of 2007 and has been promoted annually by the Pollinator Partnership to address the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. Varroa mites, small hive beetles, and nosema have decimated honeybee populations on the continental United States and recently throughout Hawaii.


Hawaii House Bill 903 Held By Senate Ways and Means Committee

Today the Senate Committee on Ways and Means voted to hold House Bill 903, House Draft 2, Senate Draft 1, effectively killing the bill for the 2013 legislative session.

HB 903

HB903, HD2, SB1 relates to nonpoint source water pollution; fee rules; separate account – establishes a separate Water Pollution Control account and authorizes the Director of Health to prescribe fees to help fund the operations of the Department of Health in managing pollution from nonpoint sources and individual wastewater systems.

Senator Russell Ruderman supported the intent of the bill – to reduce environmental pollution, but after amendments and changes to the language of the bill, and the overwhelming number of concerns expressed by constituents that this would have a potentially negative economical impact on the Puna-Ka’u district, Sen. Ruderman could not support the existing measure.

Senator Ruderman said, “I appreciate the decision of Chair Ige and the committee and thank you for your consideration on this measure. I would also like to thank Director Gary Gill and the Department of Health for their valuable time and efforts to address this important issue. Hopefully we can find a version that will address all of the concerns of our constituents.”


House Finance Committee Adopts Conservative Approach to Budget

Restructuring and Reprioritizing of Funds Trump Full Restoration to Pre-Recession Numbers

The House Finance Committee led by Representative Sylvia Luke (Makiki, Punchbowl, Nuuanu, Dowsett Highlands, Pacific Heights, Pauoa), today passed out the proposed state budget which is scheduled for a vote next week by the full House.


HB200 HD1 appropriates funds for operating and capital improvement costs of the Executive Branch for the current biennium fiscal years FY2013-2014 and FY2014-2015.

For FY2013-2014, the bill offers $5.9 billion in general funds and $11.6 billion in all other means of financing.  For FY2014-2015, it appropriates $6.1 billion in general funds and $11.7 billion in all additional financing means.

Finance Chair Luke acknowledged that the fiscal outlook is a little more positive than it has been in the past but she said, “because we have a fiscal climate that is looking up in terms of revenue, this is actually the time to take a conservative approach to our budget picture.  I realize that in the last four years we have had to cut funding to our programs and agencies because of the State’s financial crisis, but simply restoring the cuts to pre recession numbers is not the approach we are taking.”

“We need to re-evaluate what government is here for, what do we need, what can we do without.  The House is taking on the challenge to develop a budget that gives us the opportunity to provide structural stability to the State’s financial plan.  We want to increase transparency, efficiency and accountability in government.  We want to reprioritize and restructure government services and create an evolving, sustainable and robust economy for future generations,” said Luke.

“I believe expectations for complete funding restoration plus additional funds for more projects are high, as exhibited in the Executive’s budget request to us.  However, indicators from various economic forecasts show an unsteady trend in revenue.  For example, while the Council on Revenues (COR) projected increases based on a robust tourism industry and expansion in the rest of the economy, it remained uncertain about the impact on tax collections due to the renewable energy credit and changes in the tax laws.  Meanwhile, the University of  Hawaii Research Organization (UHERO) reported last month that despite the banner year for tourism, economic growth will ease over the next two years.  We are also facing the unknown ramifications of the federal government’s sequestration,” concluded Luke.

Funding highlights include;

  • $7.9 million in FY2013-2014 for a reasonable rollout of the State’s Information Management and Technology Transformation Plan. The Office of Information Management and Technology (OIMT) plan is to consolidate the State’s existing information-technology infrastructure, enhance security and privacy, and develop shared services functions across state departments.
  • $3 million has been provided to Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS) for risk management to ensure adequate insurance coverage for natural disasters.
  • Restored services and positions cut by the Department of Agriculture (DOA) by funding positions that support our local food sustainability and agricultural health. This includes 19 critical specialist and inspector positions to help control the spread of invasive species, 5 engineers for irrigation systems, and additional personnel that provide specialized testing for livestock.
  • Additional support for law enforcement agencies through funding for data systems such as the Juvenile Justice Information system (JJIS), Automated Fingerprint Recognition System (AFIS), and Facial Recognition System (FRS).
  • $1.1 million for the State Library System to purchase additional books and e-books.
  • A total of almost $2 million to support for the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative to meet the State’s goal of using 70% clean energy by the year 2030.
  • To address the issues that encompass the State’s growing Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF) unfunded liability, $205.5 million over the next two years has been infused into Other Post Employment Benefits (OPED).
  • $306,461 in additional support for the Mortgage Foreclosure Dispute Resolution Program to reflect the increase in mortgage fraud and other disputes between lenders and owners.
  • $650,000 to update and address issues with the State’s tsunami warning siren system.
  • Support for our local students by providing to the Department of Education (DOE) an additional $12.9 million for the Weighted Student Formula and $1 million for the development of a Common Core assessment test in the Hawaiian language to serve students enrolled at 14 Hawaiian immersion schools across the state.
  • $155.75 million in general obligation bond (GO) appropriations for public school improvements that include health and safety and electrical upgrades.
  • Restored public health service positions within the Department of Health (DOH) including 8 vector control workers and $443,520 of funds to increase surveillance at our airports, 8 food safety inspectors, and 7 environmental health specialists and engineers to administer programs on environmental protection regulations. $800,000 in general funds for both fiscal years for Hale Makemae and Kula Hospital.
  • $10 million annual funding for the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL) to carry out its duties of planning and developing Hawaiian Homelands across Hawaii.
  • Significant support for the State’s largest department, the Department of Human Services (DHS), with $98 million to cover increasing Medicare costs, $1.9 million for youth and juvenile services, and 10 personnel to focus on homelessness project management.
  • Provides 9 additional positions to provide security and intake services for inmates returning from out of state facilities and appropriates $8.7 million in additional funding for the Department of Public Safety (PSD) to maintain essential functions.
  • A total of $3.8 million in general funds and $32 million in GO funding to the Department of Taxation (DoTAX) to upgrade its current tax system with the Tax System Modernization Project, a five-year program that will result in the increased efficiency of electronically filed taxes and tax processing.
  • Funding to the Department of Transportation (DOT) for various vehicles and equipment to upkeep our airports and harbors. Most importantly, approval of all special and regular maintenance requests submitted by the Department.
  • Continued support of our higher education systems with $780,000 for distance learning courses, $1 million for operating costs at the West Oahu Campus and $2 million to support the community college system in each fiscal year, and $100 million in GO appropriations for repair and maintenance of our campuses.
  • A Capital Improvement Project (CIP) budget of $1,707,274,000 for FY2013-2014 and $912,851,000 for FY2014-2015 in all means of financing to address repair and maintenance backlogs and to develop “shovel ready” projects.



Department of Health Cites Close Construction Inc., for Solid Waste Violations

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has filed a Notice and Finding of Violation and Order (NOVO) against Close Construction, Inc. for illegal solid waste activities that occurred in June 2012. The company was cited for operation of an unpermitted solid waste management system that was accepting large amounts of concrete rubble at TMK 950020030000, Kamehameha Hwy., Waipio, Oahu.

Department of Health

The violation was discovered during a DOH investigation of a public complaint. The department imposed a penalty of $5,600 and ordered Close Construction, Inc. to cease accepting solid waste and remove all solid waste from the facility. Close Construction, Inc. has requested a hearing to contest the allegations or order.

The DOH Solid Waste Section regulates standards governing the design, construction, installation, operation, and maintenance of solid waste disposal, recycling, reclamation, and transfer systems. Such standards are intended to prevent pollution of the drinking water supply or waters of the state; prevent air pollution; prevent the spread of disease and the creation of nuisances; protect the public health and safety; conserve natural resources; and preserve and enhance the beauty and quality of the environment.

State Launches New Teen-Focused Obesity Prevention Campaign

During a special premiere at the State Capitol, Gov. Neil Abercrombie and the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) today launched a new teen-focused multi-media campaign to combat obesity. The campaign is part of a comprehensive set of interventions being implemented by the DOH to address obesity prevention.


Students, legislators, media and obesity prevention advocates were provided a preview of many of the television, radio, print and movie theater ads that will run statewide. The campaign will begin on Feb. 15 and run through May to reach youth ages 12-18. The campaign will also utilize social media outlets to reach the target audience.

“It is essential that these messages resonate, starting with Hawaii’s teens, so we enlisted their help in creatively developing how they will be presented,”said Gov. Abercrombie. “This campaign represents an ideal nexus of state government working with local students to ensure that public information messages intended for teens are effective and impact.”

The campaign’s TV, radio and print ads were produced with the help of Hawaii middle and high school students. After initial focus group testing with teens to determine the concept, 10th graders from Island Pacific Academy acted as youth advisers for the campaign, advising DOH staff on the look and feel of the logos and print ads.

In addition, the theater ads were entirely student-produced videos submitted by Aikahi Elementary, Aliamanu Middle, and Waianae High Schools, which were finalists in the 2012 Olelo Youth XChange video competition.

“The campaign counters the attractive promotion of unhealthy foods and drinks that are popular with our teens,”said Health Director Loretta Fuddy. “Our goal is to begin the conversation with our youth on how marketing influences their over-consumption. We have found that Hawaii teenagers have a great deal of purchasing power, so it’s important that they are made aware of how their decisions are swayed.”


Consumption of some unhealthy items, such as sugary drinks, is highest in the teen population, with nearly all teens (93 percent) reporting consumption within the past week. One-half (48 percent) reported consuming of at least one sugar-sweetened beverage per day.

A 2012 survey of over 600 Hawaii teenagers also found that 63 percent of teens have more than $11 each week to spend any way they want to; over one-half of these had more than $20 of disposable income each week.

While 27 percent of high school students are currently overweight and obese, the figure is much higher among adults at 57 percent –more than one of every two adults. “With overweight and obesity rates more than double between high school and adulthood, it is important to address the issue with teens while they’re young and before they grow into adults,”added Director Fuddy.

Marketing messages around healthy eating and active living is a nationally recognized strategy to address obesity, and it is a fundamental part of the Hawaii State Physical Activity and Nutrition Plan. The state’s media campaign is integral to a comprehensive effort to reduce obesity and the chronic disease in Hawaii. The theater, television, radio, and print ads are funded with Tobacco Settlement funds.


Hawaii Governor’s Statement Regarding Marriage Equality

Gov. Neil Abercrombie in 2011 signed into law civil unions, which represented Hawaii’s diversity, protected people’s privacy, and reinforced our core values of equality and aloha.

In 2012, a lawsuit was filed against Gov. Abercrombie in his official capacity claiming discrimination for failing to allow same sex couples to marry. The governor has declined to contest the lawsuit citing elements of the civil union law. The Attorney General is defending the Department of Health in carrying out its duty under the current law. This legislative session, there are bills to address marriage equality and Gov. Abercrombie is urging the Hawaii State Legislature to hear those measures.

Gov. Abercrombie stated:

“I have always supported human equality and agree with President Obama and our Congressional Delegation that all of our citizens should be treated equally. “Hawaii is a state defined by our diversity, compassion and aloha.  I encourage our state legislators to hold hearings on the marriage equality bill so that we can further discussions on equal treatment under the law.”


Stop Flu at School Kicks Off Today

This fall, the state’s annual school-located vaccination program, Stop Flu at School, will again offer free flu vaccine to elementary and middle school children in 338 public, private and charter schools statewide.

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) is collaborating with school administrators, health care providers, pediatric associations, health insurers, and federal partners to continue this effective program that successfully vaccinated more than 69,000 Hawai‘i students last year.

Information packets and vaccination consent forms are being distributed to parents through participating schools. To make the free vaccinations available to their children, parents or guardians should complete and sign the consent forms, and return them to schools by the deadline, Friday, September 7, 2012.  Vaccination clinics will begin in October and continue into  December.

“This program reduces barriers to immunization by eliminating costs to families and the need for parents to take time off from work for a trip to the doctor or clinic,” said Health Director Loretta Fuddy. “DOH vaccinated more than 69,000 students last year through the Stop Flu at School program, and we’re committed to reaching even more of our most vulnerable communities with this free, voluntary program.”

In an effort to reach more families, DOH will again have translations of the consent forms and vaccine information statements available on its website.

This year, we are offering parents the option of completing the consent form online,” said Ronald Balajadia, Immunization Branch Chief. “To access the online consent form, visit Consent forms completed online must be printed, signed and dated, then returned to school by the September 7th deadline.”

“Flu vaccinations are safe and our best form of protection against the flu,” said Dr. Sarah Y. Park, State Epidemiologist. “By vaccinating school children, we protect not only our keiki but their families and our communities as well.”

For more information about the Stop Flu at School program and translated consent forms, go to the DOH website at, or call Aloha United Way’s information and referral service at 2-1-1 for assistance.

We… Hui for Health Screenings on the Big Island

WE… a hui for health, a program created in 2011 and based on Hawai’i values and local relationships, will be in 16 Big Island communities over the next month to give island residents greater access to health screenings and information to help them understand their role in improving their own health.

Lions receive retinal screening training. Photo courtesy of WE

WE events on the Big Island are made possible through the financial and materials support of many different health-related advocacy groups, government agencies, native Hawaiian health organizations, ‘Ohana Health Plan, Young Brothers and the Lions Clubs throughout Hawai’i, all working together to provide these free health screening events.     Events will be held at the following locations and dates:

  • Kealakekua Ranch Shopping Center (near Choice Mart), Sunday, Aug 26, Full WE, including Vision Van,  9am-1pm, Vision Van ONLY, 1pm-4pm
  • Ocean View Farmers Market, Saturday, Sept 1, Full WE, including Vision Van, 8am–12noon
  • Ka’u Resource and Distance Learning Center,  Saturday, Sept 1, Full WE, including Vision Van,  2pm–6pm
  • Maku’u Market, Pahoa, Sunday, Sept 2, Full WE, including Vision Van, 7am–12noon
  • Hilo Bandstand, Friday, Sept 7, Full WE, including Vision Van, 8am-11am
  • Hilo Life Care Center,  Saturday, Sept 8, Full WE, including Vision Van, 8am–3pm
  • Hilo Wal-Mart ,  Sunday, Sept 9, Full WE, including Vision Van,  10am–2pm
  • Hawai`i County Fair, Hilo, Thursday, Sept 13, Vision Van ONLY,  6pm-10pm
  • North Hawaii Education and Research Center,  Friday, Sept 14, Full WE, including Vision Van,  10am–2pm, Vision Van ONLY,  9am-5pm
  • North Hawai`i Community Hospital, Waimea ,  Saturday, Sept 15, Full WE, including Vision Van,  11am–2pm, Vision Van ONLY, 9am-5pm
  • Waikoloa Shopping Center ,  Sunday, Sept 16, Full WE, including Vision Van, 10am–2pm, Vision Van ONLY,  9am–4pm
  • Hawi Banyan Tree , Tuesday, Sept 18, Vision Van ONLY,  9am-3pm
  • Honoka’a Gym, Saturday, Sept 22, Vision Van ONLY, 9am-5pm
  • Parker Ranch Center, Waimea , Sunday, Sept 23, Vision Van ONLY,  9am-5pm

Young Brothers is providing free  inter-island shipping of the Project Vision Hawaii vision van, thereby making these health screening events possible.

Other community partners who have made these special free programs possible include Hamakua Health Center, North Hawaii Community Hospital, Hui Malama Ola `Oiwi, the Department of Health office on the Big Island, Ka`u Resource and Distance Learning Center, Ka`u Hospital, Life Care Center, and many others.
Screenings WE provides include:
Retinal Screening on the Vision Van (Project Vision Hawaii, Lions Clubs of District 50 Lions Clubs International and numerous Optometrists and Ophthalmologists on every island)

  • Lung Function Testing – Spirometry – (Hawaii COPD Coalition)
  • Glucose and Blood Pressure Testing (American Diabetes Association, Entra Health Systems `Ohana Health Plan)
  • Take-Home Kidney Function Test (National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii)
  • Women’s Health and Breast Self-Examination training and Information (The Queen’s Medical Center, Women’s Health and Maternity Services)
  • Hepatitis Risk Assessment and Screening and Safe Tattoo Practices information (Hepatitis Support Network)
  • Hearing Testing and Learning Disabilities Information (Learning Disabilities Association of Hawai’i)
  • Smoking Cessation Counseling (America Lung Association)
  • Family Caregiver Counseling (The Caregiver Foundation of America, Hawaii Chapter)
  • Organ Donor Counseling (Legacy of Life Hawaii)
  • Mental Health Information, Peer Education, and Resource Publications (Community Alliance for Mental Health)
 Free Community Health Screenings:
  • Cancer – Issues with the diagnosis and treatment of Cancer (‘Imi Hale of Papa Ola Lokahi)
  • Medicare Education and assistance (Sage PLUS, Executive Office on Aging, Department of Health, State of Hawai’i)
  • The Department of Health is also offering information on Disaster Preparedness – “Plan 9” for sheltering in place provides a guide to help residents shelter-in-place in the event of an emergency.
  • For healthier eating habits, the DOH has Hawaii 5-2-1-0 providing o simple steps to healthy lifestyles for children and families.
  • Hui Malama Ola Na `Oiwi, Native Hawaiian Health Care for Hawai`i Island, will be providing nutrition education and tobacco cessation awareness education and displays.
Throughout 2012, “WE… a hui for Health” will offer 50 individual days of screening, including many held on Hawaiian Homelands.   WE will cover all six major Hawaiian Islands, providing services to at least 8,000 individuals in lower-income, rural areas of the state, and areas without sufficient medical resources.

Hawaii Department of Health Urges ALL Baby Boomers to Get Hepatitis C Screening

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) is echoing the recently released recommendation of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that all persons born in the United States between 1945 and 1965 (“baby boomers”) receive a one-time hepatitis C test.

DOH joins local agencies such as Hep Free Hawai‘i and others across the nation to help raise awareness and support for improvements in prevention, diagnosis and treatment for people at risk for hepatitis C virus (HCV), especially baby boomers.

“The CDC’s new, age-based HCV screening guidelines are an important step in ensuring quality health care for our communities. Often called the silent epidemic, most people with hepatitis C don’t have symptoms for many years and consequently don’t seek screening and treatment until they have liver disease or even liver cancer,” stated Thaddeus Pham, DOH Adult Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator.

The CDC estimates that more than two million baby boomers have HCV, accounting for more than 75 percent of Americans living with this disease. People born from 1945 through 1965 currently are five times more likely to be infected than other adults. More than 15,000 Americans die of HCV annually, yet most people do not know that they have the disease because it is often asymptomatic. Offering a one-time HCV blood test to baby boomers could identify more than 800,000 additional people with HCV and save 12,000 lives.

Since 1998, the CDC has recommend HCV testing for anyone at high risk of infection. This group included anyone who has been exposed to blood through needle use, blood transfusion or organ transplant prior to 1992, or non-sterile equipment such as home tattoo needles. The CDC also recommends testing for healthcare, emergency medical, and public safety workers who have been exposed to HCV; babies born to HCV-positive mothers; and people living with HIV. The new recommendation includes all persons born between 1945 and 1965, regardless of whether they fall into these risk categories.

“Baby boomers in Hawai‘i shouldn’t wait until they feel sick to be tested because there are many things, including treatment, they can do to take care of themselves before they become ill. The earlier people know they have hepatitis, the better the outcome,” Pham said. The DOH recommends anyone who meets the CDC recommendations for hepatitis C screening go to their healthcare providers to get tested.

For more information on hepatitis B and C and for resources in Hawai‘i, individuals can call Aloha United Way 211 or go to More information on hepatitis B and C is also available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at, or by calling 1-888-443-7232.

State Urges Testing for Hepatitis B and C in Honor of World Hepatitis Day

Governor Neil Abercrombie and Lt. Governor Brian Schatz have declared this Saturday, July 28, as Hepatitis Day in Hawai’i, coinciding with World Hepatitis Day. The proclamation recognizes the importance of hepatitis education and encourages testing for those at risk.

“Often called the silent epidemic, most people with hepatitis B or C don’t have symptoms for many years,” stated Thaddeus Pham, DOH Adult Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator. “People with hepatitis B and C shouldn’t wait until they feel sick to be tested because there are many things, including treatment, they can do to take care of themselves before becoming ill.  The earlier people know they have hepatitis, the better the outcome.”

The Hawaiʻi State Department of Health (DOH) is joining others across the nation and world to help raise awareness and support for improvements in prevention, diagnosis and treatment for people living with chronic viral hepatitis B and C.

According to DOH Immunization Branch estimates, 1 to 3 percent of people in Hawai’i have hepatitis B, and approximately 23,000 are living with hepatitis C. Hepatitis B and C are the most common known causes of liver cancer in Hawaiʻi, and Hawaiʻi has the highest rate of liver cancer in the United States.  “Many people with hepatitis B and C get liver damage or cirrhosis from the disease, which can be minimized by making healthy choices such as not drinking alcohol,” Pham said.

Hepatitis B and C are spread through contact with blood and body fluids. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that anyone who has been exposed to blood through needle use, blood transfusion, non-sterile equipment, or tattooing should be tested for both hepatitis B and C. Anyone born in a country with high rates of hepatitis B, especially countries in Asia and the Pacific, should be screened for hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is easily spread from mother to child through contact with blood and other body fluids.

The DOH recommends anyone who may be at risk for hepatitis B and C to go to their healthcare providers to get tested. For those with little to no insurance, there are many DOH and community clinics statewide that offer free screenings to help people to find out their hepatitis B and C status. Individuals can call Aloha United Way 211 or go to to find the free screening location nearest them.

More information on hepatitis B and C is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at, or by calling 1-888-443-7232.

For more information about World Hepatitis Day, go to

Department of Health Cites Five Companies with Air Permit Violations

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) Clean Air Branch has issued notices of violations and orders against five companies located on Hawai‘i, Kaua‘i, Maui and O‘ahu for air permit violations.

The violations were either self-reported, or discovered during an inspection.

The following companies were cited:

  • Tesoro Hawai‘i Corporation (Tesoro) for various opacity violations on the vacuum unit charge heater, package boiler, and crude heater No. 1 and 2. Tesoro is a crude oil distillation facility with a capacity of 95,000 barrel per day and is located in Campbell Industrial Park, O‘ahu. The violation was self-reported and a penalty of $26,700 has been assessed. Currently, negotiations are being conducted regarding a consent order.
  • Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. Waiau unit 8 for an opacity exceedence on September 1, 2011. The six-minute opacity average was 68 percent during an unscheduled equipment shut down, which exceeded the opacity permit limit of 60 percent. The Waiau generating station is located in Pearl City, O‘ahu. The violation was self-reported and a penalty of $6,000 has been assessed. Currently, negotiations are being conducted regarding a consent order.
  • O. Thronas, Inc., dba Kaua‘i Aggregates for failing to conduct the 2010 annual performance tests for opacity on the 700 ton per hour stone quarrying and processing plant located at Halewili Road, Wahiawa, Kaua‘i. The violation was discovered during an annual inspection, and a penalty of $5,100 has been paid for the violation.
  • Kohala Coast Concrete and Precast, LLC. for various permit violations on the 170 cubic yards per hour concrete batch plant located at Kawaihae, Hawai‘i. The violation was discovered during a complaint investigation and a penalty of $5,300 has been assessed.
  • Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company (HC&S) for burning approximately 25 acres of Field 716 on November 4, 2011 without prior DOH written approval. HC&S operates a sugar refinery located at Puunene, Maui and has an agricultural burning permit (AGP) with the DOH.  Field 76 was not a field allowed to be burned on the AGP and the violation was self-reported. A penalty of $2,400 has been assessed for the violation.

The DOH Clean Air Branch (CAB) protects the people and environment of Hawai‘i by monitoring air quality and regulating businesses that release pollutants into the air. The CAB reviews and approves air permits, evaluates and enforces state and federal air standards, conducts inspections, and investigates reported incidents related to outdoor air quality. Through the air permit process, the DOH ensures companies comply with state and federal emission standards to minimize air pollution impacts on the public.

In general, penalties are assessed on violators to remove any economic benefit they may have gained from their noncompliance and put them in a worse situation than those who comply with the law. All fines are paid into a revolving special fund used to prevent or minimize damage to the environment. Parties have the right to request a hearing to contest DOH orders.

Department of Health Cites Kapunakea Partners for Underwater Storage Tank Violations

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health’s Underground Storage Tank (UST) Section has issued a Notice of Violation and Order against Kapunakea Partners, the registered owner and operator of West Maui Shell located in Lahaina.

Kapunakea Partners has been assessed an $85,750 penalty for the following alleged UST violations: failure to provide adequate spill prevention equipment; failure to maintain release detection records for the tanks and piping; and failure to conduct maintenance and /or testing of operability of all release detection equipment.  These violations were discovered during a routine inspection conducted on May 11, 2010. Kapunakea Partners has 20 days in which they may contest the Notice of Violation and Order and request a hearing.

Hawai‘i Administrative Rules Chapter 11-281, requires UST owners and/or operators to maintain adequate spill prevention equipment. Records of release detection monitoring for both tanks and piping must be maintained on site. The regulations also require that an annual maintenance of the release detection equipment and/or testing of operability be performed at least every 12 months.

The routine maintenance and testing of release prevention and detection equipment is essential to avoiding an accidental, but possibly catastrophic, release of petroleum product, such as gasoline or diesel, into the environment.

The DOH regulates underground storage tanks which store petroleum or hazardous substances by conducting operational compliance inspections from the time the tank is installed. Inspections determine if a tank is being maintained properly to prevent damage to the environment.

Department of Health Cites Kitagawa Towing and Metal Recycling for Permit Violations

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) has filed a notice and finding of violation and order against Kitagawa Towing and Metal Recycling. The violations were found during a routine permit compliance inspection, occurred at 30 Hobron Avenue in Kahului on Maui, and involved multiple and significant violations of the facility’s solid waste management permit.

Tires on the side of the road from "The Big Clean Up… Take a Stand for Your Land – Hawaii Ocean View Estates"

Violations found at the facility included the failure to take measures to prevent the discharge of fluids (such as used oil and gasoline) or to assess and mitigate the release of fluids; the failure to construct and operate the facility in accordance with application materials, operations manual, or permit; the improper storage of unprocessed vehicles; the improper storage of waste tires; the improper storage of lead acid batteries; the improper storage of waste fluids; and the failure to prevent mixing of waste streams with other material.

My son and I pick up huge batteries that were disposed on the roadside

The DOH has imposed a penalty of $73,900, suspended the facility’s solid waste management permit, and ordered the facility to cease operations. The penalty takes into account the extent of deviation from the law and the potential for harm. Kitagawa Towing and Metal Recycling may request a hearing to contest the allegations or order.

The DOH Solid Waste Section regulates standards governing the design, construction, installation, operation, and maintenance of solid waste disposal, recycling, reclamation, and transfer systems.

Such standards are intended to prevent pollution of the drinking water supply or waters of the state; prevent air pollution; prevent the spread of disease and the creation of nuisances; protect the public health and safety; conserve natural resources; and preserve and enhance the beauty and quality of the environment.