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Thursday, December 29, 2022

Kaʻū News Briefs, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022

Twenty-one of the 26 traffic deaths last year involved impairment with alcohol and/or drugs. Police said they will  be out in force over these holidays. Traffic deaths for 2022 are highest in a decade. See more below. Photo from HPD

VOG HAS DETRIMENTAL IMPACTS ON STUDENT TEST STORES, according to a new study from Department of Economics at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, the UH Economic Research Organization and University College London. 
    “This finding has great implications for environmental justice,” says a blog written by co-lead author Rachel Inafuku, Phd. “Students who are more financially stable face less obstacles in accumulating human capital when air quality is poor, suggesting that pollution contributes to the inequality gaps that we observe here in Hawaiʻi and in the U.S.”
    Inafuku, who works at UHERO and has a doctorate and masters in economics from UH, continued, “The Hawaiian Islands are particularly advantageous for studying the effects of pollution for several reasons. First, Hawaiʻi is home to pristine baseline levels of air quality with average pollutant levels well
Dr. Rachel Inafuku. Photo from UH
below EPA ambient air quality standards. Most studies have focused on areas with extremely high average pollution levels and are much less comparable to most areas within the U.S. Furthermore, the level of pollutants throughout Hawaiʻi is truly unpredictable and random. Because the bulk of pollution throughout the state is dependent on emissions from Kīlauea volcano and wind direction, air pollution is based lar gely on the forces of nature and not man made sources (e.g., traffic, industrial facilities, etc).”
    UH Press reports:

    "As Mauna Loa erupted in late November 2022 for the first time since 1984, the emissions produced vog or volcanic smog. Vog—a mixture of ash, sulfur dioxide and other gasses—may cause breathing difficulties, headaches, a sore throat, watery eyes and more to those living near and/or downwind of the vog plume.
    The study reports that "These effects are especially pronounced for the poorest pupils who experience impacts that are greater than those for more advantaged pupils. In addition, these effects are greatest in areas with higher baseline levels of pollution such as south Hawaiʻi Island. A key takeaway of the study is that poor air quality can compromise learning outcomes for disadvantaged students and therefore exacerbate economic inequality. Recent work by UH economists Timothy Halliday and John Lynham have also demonstrated that vog causes a large increase in ER visits due to respiratory reasons."
    Data sources: The authors utilized the census of test scores from Hawaiʻi public school students on the Smarter Balanced Assessment—a mandatory annual test of math and English literacy skills created to measure college and career readiness for Department of Education students in grades 3 through 8 and 11—from 2015–2018, provided by Hawaiʻi P-20. Within the sample, about half of the students were considered economically disadvantaged and roughly 6% received English language services. In addition, 24% of students identified as Native Hawaiian, 24% Filipino, 18% White, 16% Asian (non-Filipino), 9% Pacific Islander and 8% another ethnicity. In total, the sample consisted of more than 150,000 unique individuals across 260 schools.
    Their air quality data was provided by the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Health. The authors looked at particulates (specifically PM2.5, which are fine inhalable particles with diameters that are generally 2.5 micrometers and smaller) and sulfur dioxide (toxic gas released naturally by volcanic activity) to measure pollution levels. The DOH data on particulate levels was collected through their pollution monitoring stations, which span across numerous locations throughout the state.
    Using wind variation and pollution measurements from the DOH monitoring stations, the authors predicted levels of the particulates and sulfur dioxide at a given school using techniques from the geosciences. The researchers then used these predicted measures of air particulates and the SBA scores, to estimate the effect of particulate pollution on test scores.
    Results: The authors discovered that an increase in particulates would lead to a small decrease in student test scores. In addition, the effects are estimated to be substantially larger for students who attend schools with poorer average air quality. Specifically, students at schools with an average of 9 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5 or higher, which a majority are located in the south/southwest region of Hawaiʻi Island, would experience roughly seven times the decline in test scores than those with less than 9 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5. This equates to a reduction of more than 1% in test scores for every standard deviation increase (standard deviation for the sample is equal to 1.84 micrograms per cubic meter) in PM2.5. Therefore, an increase of 1.84 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5 led to more than a 1% reduction in test scores
    The average PM2.5 rate from the Ocean View monitoring station between 2015–2018 was 12.64 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5—the highest of any Hawaiʻi monitoring station in that period. The highest daily average from that same station between the same time frame came on June 4, 2018 at 55.5 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5. According to the authors’ estimates, if schools with higher baseline levels of pollution (in this case, 9 micrograms per cubic meter or greater) saw an increase in PM2.5 from 12.64 to 55.5 micrograms per cubic meter, test scores would fall by more than 25%.
    This effect is evident when also focusing on the south/southwest region of Hawaiʻi Island—which is home to summit and rift zones where Kīlauea and Mauna Loa’s vents have been repeatedly active—and has much higher average levels of pollution compared to the rest of the state. In this area, the effect of increases in PM2.5 on student performance is estimated to be roughly five times greater than estimates for the total sample.
    Model shows disadvantaged students could be worse: Importantly, says the report, the authors show that the impacts of poor air quality fall more heavily on poor pupils as defined by those who qualify for federal programs such as free and reduced lunch. The effects of PM2.5 are larger by a factor of ten and the effects of sulfur dioxide are larger by a factor of six. The authors demonstrated that the disparate effects of pollution by socioeconomic class occur within schools. Hence, these effects cannot be attributed to poorer schools being located in more polluted areas.
    The Department of Economics and UHERO are housed in UH Mānoa’s College of Social Sciences.

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A NEW POST IN STATE GOVERNMENT CALLED DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF WELLNESS AND RESILIENCE was filled by Gov. Josh Green on Thursday as he announced more appointments to fill administrative offices. Green said, "These exceptional and experienced individuals will work to advance our community's quality of life, sustainably develop our economy, and modernize our systems to increase government efficiency and cross-collaboration. I am confident that today's nominees and appointments will serve the people of Hawaiʻi wholeheartedly and hit the ground running to produce these promised results."
    Tia Roberts Hartsock, Director of the Office of Wellness and Resilience previously served as the Project Director of a federal Substance Abuse, Mental Health Services Administrative Initiative,
Data to Wisdom, within the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Division of the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health. In that capacity, she helped develop and provide mental health services for adolescent female trauma survivors involved in the juvenile justice, mental health and/or child welfare systems. Hartsock also had an appointment as an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Hawaiʻi's School of Social Work since 2017. With over 20 years of experience in mental health and criminal justice systems, she will serve as the state's first Director of Wellness and Resilience.

    Mark Glick, State Energy Officer leverages his 17 years of managing energy and economic development projects through his positions as the Chair of the Hawaiʻi Energy Policy Forum, Specialist on Energy Policy and Innovation, Administrator of the Hawaiʻi State Energy Office, and the Director of Economic Development at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. With his extensive experience of supporting and facilitating energy transitions and decarbonization efforts in Hawaiʻi, he will continue to make significant progress towards achieving the state's clean energy economy goals.

    Doug Murdock, Chief Information Officer returns to a role he has held since 2019. He has overseen some of the state's largest technology initiatives, launching the successful effort to modernize the antiquated payroll and tax systems. As CIO, his priorities include continuing the efforts to modernize the enterprise resource planning system, enterprise portfolio management, and workforce development.

    Ryan Yamane, Deputy of Department of Human Resources Development
has a background as state Representative of District 37 and as a Clinical Director at Ho'okūpono. As a Representative from 2004, he chaired committees including the Health, Human Services, & Homelessness, working to address the various labor and training issues each department faced. "With this deep understanding, Yamane will ensure the improvement of the hiring process to expeditiously fill vacancies with dedicated individuals," said Green.

    Morris Atta, Deputy to the Chair for the Department of Agriculture continues in his role. Prior to holding this position, Atta served as the agriculture land program manager/administrator.

    Jimmy Tokioka, Deputy of the Department of Transportation - Airports Division served as state Representative for District 15 and 16, and on the Kauaʻi County Council for 10 years. Tokioka was a member of the Joint Task Force to conduct reviews of the state Highway Fund and Bureau of Conveyances committee. "Throughout his 20 years in public service, Tokioka gained intimate background knowledge of the workings of the state and will contribute to a strong team that's passionate about producing and maintaining quality infrastructure," said Green.

Meoh-Leng Silliman, Deputy Comptroller for the Department of Accounting & General Services continues in her role. Silliman has over 15 years of state experience, of which over 12 years were in the capacity of Business Management Officer at the Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs and DAGS.

Sulphur Cone on the Southwest Rift Zone of Mauna Loa volcano, Hawai'i. Note the volcanologist (in orange) for scale.
A career in volcanology can lead to some spectacular places. USGS image by T. Elias

WHAT IS A VOLCANOLOGIST EXACTLY?  That is the question answered in this week's Volcano Watch, written by scientists and affiliates of USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory: The short answer is a volcanologist is a person who studies volcanoes, but that’s not the whole story. There are as many different specialties within volcanology and as many paths you can take to get there as there are tools of the trade. What are these tools, you ask? Let’s have a look.
    Earthquakes are one primary tool used to study volcanoes. A volcano seismologist studies the earthquakes that are generated as magma moves through the Earth’s crust. Another technique in the tool kit is measuring the change in a volcano’s shape. A volcano geodesist studies the deformation, or change in shape, of a volcano caused by the movement of magma and gases beneath the surface. Tools like these provide clues about the state of the volcano. During an eruption, geologists and geochemists study the composition of lavas and gases to understand the source and style of the eruption. Measuring gas emissions is especially important, as the vog (volcanic air pollution) caused by toxic volcanic gases can contribute to breathing problems, acid rain, and agricultural problems downwind, especially during long-
lived eruptions. Many features of volcanoes can be studied from space, as well, using satellite sensors.
    With so many techniques and specialties out there, you may be asking yourself, “How do I choose which path to follow? How do I choose which tool to use?” Don’t worry, it’s not necessary to pick a discipline right away. In fact, you shouldn’t. The first thing to do is work toward a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Traditionally, volcanologists start out with degrees in geology, chemistry, physics, or mathematics, but that is not always the case. Oceanography, computer science, engineering, environmental science are all potential pathways, and the list goes on. Explore different fields to your heart’s desire. There’s no one way to get to volcanology. Sadly, gone are the days when one could apply to a volcano observatory right after undergraduate studies and hope to learn on the job.
    To study volcanoes, it is typically necessary to get a Masters or Doctorate degree. The good news is many advanced degree programs in the sciences are fully funded, meaning tuition is waived, and they typically provide a stipend. Basically, you get paid instead of having to pay the school. This is where a budding volcanologist starts to choose their specialty. Of course, working through four to eight years of a PhD after already spending four or more years getting a bachelor’s degree isn’t for everyone. While research institutes such as universities and volcano observatories require advanced degrees, there are other pathways available for those who love volcanoes and Earth science but do not have a higher degree.
    The National Park Service offers a variety of positions for people with either bachelor’s or advanced degrees, such as park geologists, archaeologists, botanists, guides, interpretive rangers, and law enforcement rangers. Science writing and journalism are also excellent ways to explore the excitement of volcanology, natural disasters, and cutting-edge science, while encouraging those passions in others. Similarly, eco- and geo-tourism are great ways to get close to the action and work outdoors, while also meeting, educating, and inspiring people from all over the world.

Humans have been fascinated with volcanoes since humans have been on Earth, many of them taking up the study and some becoming volcanologists. This photo was taken during the December 1919-1920 Maunaiki eruption. The eruption was monitored by the entire staff of two geologists at the then-seven-year-old Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. This rift zone eruption coincided with lava-lake activity in Halema‘uma‘u and allowed geologists to understand what was happening beneath the surface of Kīlauea volcano. In this picture, a man in a hat stands next to two masses of solidified lava. Visit the park website to learn about the day hike to Maunaiki: https://go.nps.gov/KauWildernessPhoto courtesy of USGS Record Book

    The candid truth about careers in volcanology and Earth Science is that they are a labor of love. Volcanology is not the career for those whose priorities are a six-figure salary, a healthy work-life balance, and early retirement. What it lacks in pay, however, is made up in adventure and a deep sense of purpose. International travel and collaboration, creative scientific research, and the knowledge that this work may save lives are the raisons d’être for volcanologists. Collecting unbelievable stories to tell the grandkids is, of course, a bonus. Once a person bears witness to the raw power and beauty of our planet—watching volcanoes erupt first-hand and the new growth that follows—it sticks with them for life. For many volcanologists, it is difficult to imagine doing anything else.
    Volcano Activity Updates: Mauna Loa is not erupting. Its USGS Volcano Alert Level is at ADVISORY. Mauna Loa updates are issued weekly on Thursdays.
    Webcam imagery shows weak, residual incandescence intermittently in the inactive Northeast Rift Zone fissure 3 lava flow at night. Seismicity remains low and ground deformation rates have decreased. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rates are at background levels. For Mauna Loa monitoring data, see: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/mauna-loa/monitoring-data.
    Kīlauea is not erupting. Its USGS Volcano Alert level is at ADVISORY. Kīlauea updates are issued weekly on Tuesdays.
    Lava supply to the Halemaʻumaʻu lava lake in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park ceased on December 9. Sulfur dioxide emission rates have decreased to near pre-eruption background levels and were last measured at approximately 200 tonnes per day (t/d) on December 14. Seismicity is elevated but stable, with few earthquakes. Over the past week, summit tiltmeters recorded several deflation-inflation (DI) events. For Kīlauea monitoring data, see https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/past-week-monitoring-data-kilauea.
    There were three earthquakes with 3 or more felt reports in the Hawaiian Islands during the past week: a M3.3 earthquake 14 km (8 mi) S of Fern Forest at 7 km (4 mi) depth on Dec. 27 at 4:33 a.m. HST, a M3.4 earthquake 7 km (4 mi) WSW of Volcano at 2 km (1 mi) depth on Dec. 24 at 8:31 p.m. HST, and a M2.5 earthquake 1 km (0 mi) S of Mountain View at 11 km (7 mi) depth on Dec. 24 at 9:57 a.m. HST.
    HVO continues to closely monitor the ongoing eruptions at Kīlauea and Mauna Loa.
    Visit HVO’s website for past Volcano Watch articles, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa updates, volcano photos, maps, recent earthquake info, and more. Email questions to askHVO@usgs.gov.

MOST TRAFFIC DEATHS INVOLVE ALCOHOL, DRUGS. DRIVE SAFELY AND SOBER DURING THE NEW YEAR'S HOLIDAY WEEKEND, urges Hawai'i Police Department. HPD issued a statement on Thursday to report that Hawai‘i Island traffic fatalities at their highest level in a decade. "To date this year, there have been 34 fatalities on Big Island roads, compared to 26 at this time in 2021. The last time there more traffic deaths on island was back in 2012 when there were 38 traffic fatalities. Drug–impaired driving is a problem on our island highways. Of the 26 traffic deaths on island last year, impairment was a factor in 21 of them, with drugs playing a role in 20 of the 21 impaired fatalities. Whether the drug is legally prescribed or an illegal drug, driving while drug-impaired poses a threat to the driver, vehicle pa
ssengers, and other road users."
    Hawaiʻi Police Department is reminding all drivers: "If you are impaired by drugs and thinking of driving, pass your keys to a sober driver. Don’t be the reason someone doesn’t make it home for the holidays. If you are caught driving under the influence, you will be arrested and you and you will go to

jail." Hawai‘i Police Department promises to be out in force and on the lookout for impaired drivers this holiday weekend. Earlier this month HPD conducted sign waving events reminding motorists to drive safely. Hawai‘i Island police remind the public of these safety tips.
Something as simple as cold medication or an over-the-counter sleep aid can impair driving, which may lead to being arrested for a DUI. Impaired? Do not drive.
    Planning on going to a party or event? Plan ahead and designate a sober driver or use public transportation or a ride-sharing service. Someone who’s affected by drugs or alcohol shouldn’t be making decisions about driving; that’s why having a plan is key.
    DUI violations are not just for drunken driving. Remember, any impairment, including drugs, is illegal when operating a vehicle. Impaired by any substance? Do not drive.
    On average, a DUI could set an impaired driver back $10,000 in attorney’s fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work, higher insurance rates, and more.
    Those caught driving under the influence of any impairing substance, can face jail time. Imagine trying to explain that to friends and family or place of employment.
    Drug-impaired driving could cause loss of driver’s license and vehicle. This could make it difficult for getting to work, resulting in lost wages and, potentially, job loss.
    Plan Before You Party: If choosing to use an impairing substance, do not drive. Passengers should never ride with an impaired driver. If a driver may be impaired, do not get in the car. Have a friend who is about to drive while impaired by drugs? Take the keys away and arrange to get them home safely. Don’t worry about offending someone — they’ll thank you later. See an impaired driver on the road? Contact police.


Christmas Lights & Icons Show continues to brighten up the corner of Lehua and Palm in Ranchos at Ocean View every evening. See story at www.kaucalendar.com.

Holiday Lighting and Decor dress up the cottages at Kīlauea Military Camp for the public to see. See story at www.kaucalendar.com.

Christmas in the Country is ongoing until the New Year at Volcano Art Center Gallery and VAC's Ni’aulani Campus. See story at kaucalendar.com.

The Hiking Incentive Program at Kahuku Unit of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park wraps up at the end of year. For the Kūkini Challenge, hikers, and walkers can turn in miles, recording them at the Visitor Contact Station for a chance to win a silver water flask and accolades for the fourth quarter of 2022.


St. Jude's Hot Meals are free to those in need on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until food runs out, no later than noon. Volunteers from the community are welcome to help and can contact Karen at pooch53@gmail.com. Location is 96-8606 Paradise Circle Drive in Ocean View.
   Those in need can also take hot showers from 9 a.m. to noon and use the computer lab from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Masks and social distancing required.

Free Meals Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are served from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Nā'ālehu Hongwanji. Volunteers prepare the food provided by 'O Ka'ū Kākou with fresh produce from its gardens on the farm of Eva Liu, who supports the project. Other community members also make donations and approximately 150 meals are served each day, according to OKK President Wayne Kawachi.

See The Ka'ū Calendar in the mail and in stands from Volcano through Miloli'i. Also see stories daily on Facebook and at www.kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com.

Volcano Evening Market, Cooper Center, Volcano Village, Thursdays, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., with live music, artisan crafts, ono grinds, and fresh produce. See facebook.com.

Volcano Swap Meet, fourth Saturday of the month from 8 a.m. to noon. Large variety of vendors with numerous products. Tools, clothes, books, toys, local made healing extract and creams, antiques, jewelry, gemstones, crystals, food, music, plants, fruits, and vegetables. Also offered are cakes, coffee, and shave ice. Live music.

Volcano Farmers Market, Cooper Center, Volcano Village on Sundays, 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., with local produce, baked goods, food to go, island beef and Ka'ū Coffee. EBT is used for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly Food Stamps. Call 808-967-7800.

'O Ka'ū Kākou Market, Nā'ālehu, Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Contact Nadine Ebert at 808-938-5124 or June Domondon 808-938-4875. See facebook.com/OKauKakouMarket.

Ocean View Community Market, Saturdays and Wednesdays, 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., corner of Kona Drive and Highway 11, where Thai Grindz is located. Masks mandatory. 100-person limit, social distancing required. Gate unlocked for vendors at 5:30 a.m., $15 dollars, no reservations needed. Parking in the upper lot only. Vendors must provide their own sanitizer. Food vendor permits required. Carpooling is encouraged.

Ocean View Swap Meet at Ocean View makai shopping center, near Mālama Market. Hours for patrons are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. Vendor set-up time is 5 a.m. Masks required.

The Book Shack is open every Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Kauaha'ao Congregational Church grounds at 95-1642 Pinao St. in Wai'ōhinu.