Study shows looming health hazards 6 months after Maui wildfires

Study shows looming health hazards 6 months after Maui wildfires

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People test patients
Maui WES Job fair on January 27

About half of Maui residents affected by August’s wildfires said their health is worse now than a year ago, and more than half said they lost their jobs because of the fires.These are the university’s preliminary findings hawaii The Manoa Maui Wildfire Exposure Cohort Study (Maui WES). The study aims to document, for at least the next 10 years, the acute and chronic health impacts and social conditions caused by one of the region’s deadliest and most devastating natural disasters. hawaii history.

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Preliminary results include:

  • 49% say their health is worse than last year (before wildfires)
  • 58% of participants lost their job due to wildfires
  • 65% live in temporary accommodation
  • 24% of participants remain in their pre-wildfire homes
  • 11% have moved into a new permanent home
  • 24% are still unemployed and looking for work
  • 74% reported a decrease in household income
people working at desk
Maui WES Job fair on January 27

There are currently 224 study participants, and preliminary results are based on surveys and health analyses. They obtain preliminary results immediately and encourage those with abnormal clinically relevant health indicators to seek professional medical care.

This grassroots community-based initiative aims to recruit at least 1,000 people affected by wildfires to participate in the study. The next recruiting event will be February 9-10 at the Royal Lahaina Resort in Lahaina. Please visit the website for more information and to register.

person undergoing health check-up

Self-reported health outcomes:

  • 49% say their health is worse now than last year (before the bushfires)
  • 24% say they don’t have consistent access to health care
  • Thirteen percent said they did not have health insurance (that’s significantly higher than last year’s survey of Maui residents, when only 1.7% said they had no health insurance and similar to the statewide rate.)

Physical health assessment:

  • 21.5% of the cohort participants had stage 1 and stage 2 hypertension, with 54.8% having prehypertensive levels, indicating that an overall proportion (more than 76%) of individuals were at elevated risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • 8-18% of participants may have impaired renal function.
  • 74% of participants may have poor respiratory health, with 49% showing signs of mild to severe lung obstruction
  • Thirty-three percent of impaired lung function is associated with impaired tissue oxygenation.

person who assists with registration

Mental health assessment:

  • 55% showed symptoms of depression. This is significantly higher than the approximately 33% of the state’s general population and Maui residents in previous surveys.
  • depression incidence Maui WES The cohort increases with age, peaking at 75% among those aged 50-59 years.
  • 34.6% Maui WES Respondents reported low self-esteem, well above the 13-14% observed in 2023 Well Economic Research Organization (hero) Pre-wildfire investigation.Low self-esteem remains high among people of all ages Maui WES groups, with significant peaks occurring in the 30-39 and over 70 age groups.
  • 1.3% of participants reported recent suicidal thoughts, a slight increase from specific rates for the state and Maui in May 2023, highlighting ongoing mental health challenges in recovering from wildfires.

Food insecurity:

  • About 35% of households surveyed have very low or low levels of food security, up from 23.7% and 20.5% previously observed. hero Pre-August wildfires were investigated separately on Maui and in the states.

“The significantly higher prevalence of underlying physical health problems among affected populations highlights the urgent need for early intervention to reduce exposure and prevent the onset of chronic disease and death,” the report said. “This is important for addressing respiratory and psychological Health issues and improving access to health care for uninsured individuals are particularly important.”

Maui communities face significant challenges in recovering from the emotional, mental and physical trauma caused by wildfires, which also cause environmental hazards, including air pollution and toxins, creating additional long-term health risks.

Maui WES Participants provide valuable data through detailed questionnaires and health assessments, including biospecimen collection, to assess short- and long-term health outcomes of exposure to potentially hazardous substances.

The research was conducted by Well Manoa Teacher Ruben Juarez hero inside Well Alika Maunakea, School of Social Sciences and Department of Anatomy, Biochemistry and Physiology, Maunoa Well Manoa John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM).

The program is a partnership with community organizations such as Maui Medic Healers Hui and Roots Reborn, and is supported by seed funding from the Hawaii Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund.This public impact research project is the result of an ongoing collaboration between the two parties hero and JABSOM.

visit hero Full report website.

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