Reader experience ties asthma to cane smoke

There have been quite a few letters on both sides of cane burning issue. What is missing is that we on Maui have the highest incidence of childhood asthma in the state and Hawaii has the highest in the country.

Local people defend the sugar cane industry but fail to see that the pesticide it uses has been banned in the rest of the country for more than 15 years and that is the problem. It is this pesticide, combined with the plastic piping, when burned that causes the hazardous smoke and health conditions. Just get the number of emergency room visits on cane burning days from people suffering from breathing problems and you will see the enormity of the problem.

Why have other islands and places converted to green harvesting? Why can’t this industry, that has been around for a hundred years, modernize and make their sugar without toxifying the environment? I understand there is not much profit in HC&S sugar production any longer.

I have lived here nearly 14 years and the first time I had an asthma attack in my life was on a sugar cane burning night and the next was also a cane burning night. The only other place I had asthma was in Bali where they burn all their trash by the side of the road.

Either upgrade to green harvesting practiced by the rest of the world’s producers or plant any one of many crops that would help our island become more sustainable and less dependent on the Mainland for food.

We have adopted Maui as our home and just want to improve what needs to be changed. Everything is not perfect in paradise, and yet we choose to live here, pay our taxes and work toward a better life because we love it.

Hermine Harman

Kihei