Two playgrounds in Maili on the island of Oahu, Hawaii were recently demolished and set to be renovated, but residents say the debris left from the demolition remains behind and their children’s lungs have been filling up with its dust.
According to a story aired on KHON-2 TV News, the playgrounds – one of which is owned by the Hawaii Public Housing Authority – were left in a shambles after equipment was knocked down or torn out. It wasn’t until nearly a month later that workers wearing masks and rubber gloves came to remove the debris. Now both playgrounds are being tested for asbestos and lead.
“I am relieved that they came and cleared it,” said Dawn Clarke, an area resident. However, she added, her daughter – as well as many other children in the area – has been coughing since the equipment came down and the remains left unattended.
“Like something’s jumping in my throat and it hurts,” said Maile Clarke, Dawn’s daughter, age 7. So Clarke took Maile to the doctor, where her lungs were x-rayed. The mother says Maile’s lungs were filled with “gray cloudy stuff”, a bronchial infection. Now, the little girl has been taking a host of different antibiotics to combat the problem.
“They’re giving her a cocktail of a bunch of different antibiotics. A total of 8 so far, because it’s a guessing game, they don’t know what they’re treating,” Clarke said.
Clarke took it upon herself to take a sample of the dust and debris left behind at the Maili One playground, fearing the presence of asbestos, lead, and other toxins. Asbestos exposure can cause illnesses such as asbestosis and mesothelioma cancer. Exposure to lead can lead to all sorts of nervous system problems as well as brain damage. Clarke took the samples to a lab in Kaimuki, which is performing the tests for free. Results are expected within a week.
In the meantime, the Hawaii Public Housing Authority told KHON that though they knew about the playground’s intended renovations, they weren’t advised that the debris remained behind after the equipment was removed. A barricade now surrounds each of the playgrounds.