We are seeking donations of respirators and cartridges for Lāhaina families and volunteers. Resources in Hawaiʻi are limited and we are looking to our friends on the continent for support. Details below.
Thank you to the many who have reached out to offer your support in the wake of the tragic fires on Maui. This has been a trying time for communities across Maui and all of Hawaiʻi and the recovery will take years, if not decades. As the search and rescue efforts come to a close and urgent direct relief efforts settle in for the long haul, impacted families are returning to the remains of their homes, many without proper protection from toxins, in search of items that may have been spared by the fires and to aid in the clean up efforts.
Fire ash and debris is inherently dangerous and toxic. To make matters worse, we believe that many, if not all, of the electrical transformers that were burned in the fires contained polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, as much of the infrastructure in Lāhainā is dated. We are working with the toxics team at Sierra Club National as well as local agencies and organizations to inform residents of the dangers of PCBs and other toxins prevalent in fire debris and how best to protect themselves and their families. Part of this is equipping impacted residents and relief volunteers with personal protective equipment, primarily respirators and replacement cartridges.
As you can imagine, our island community has limited resources. There are only a handful of stores in the islands that carry such supplies and they have been sold out for weeks. Many of you have reached out to see how you can support families in need—this is an immediate need that you can help fill. If you are able, we are looking for donations of the following:
Individual respirators and cartridges are available for sale as well as cases—every single donation is appreciated. Please mail them to the Maui Ocean Center, 192 Maalaea Road, Wailuku, Maui, 96793, list Tapani Vuori, General Manager of Maui Ocean Center, 808-561-2022, as the contact for delivery, and email Kirsten Kagimoto, Hawaiʻi Chapter Communications Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org to notify her of the donation so she can help track.
A few shipments of respirators have recently hit the ground so there is an anticipated need for replacement cartridges soon. There are volunteers on the ground collecting the donations and training folks on how to properly fit and wear them. While we are equipping folks with personal protective equipment, we are also working with the toxics program and allies to call on the EPA and local agencies to thoroughly test the soil, air, and water around Lāhainā and Kula to better inform the community as well as ensure the clean up and remediation of Lāhainā is properly executed.
Thank you for your support and thoughts during these difficult times. If you or someone you know has an expertise in fire toxins, environmental testing, or access to large quantities of respirators and home air filters, please let us know!