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Alaska Beat

In unseasonable cold snap, Fairbanks area records nation's highest particulate air pollution

  • Author:
  • Updated: May 12, 2016
  • Published November 28, 2012

Fairbanks-area air pollution sensors this week are recording particulate pollution levels higher than those of any other of 300-plus U.S. cities participating in the program, reports the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Fairbanks has chronic winter air pollution problems from widespread use of wood- and oil-burning stoves. The city has been experiencing unusually cold November weather, with temperatures dropping into the minus-30s overnight.

The forecast for today for North Pole remains "very unhealthy," while for Fairbanks it is "unhealthy." There are no spots in the Lower 48 with unhealthy or very unhealthy forecasts.

The problem in the Fairbanks area consists of particulate matter which is too small to be seen with the eye, 2.5 micrometers in diameter or less.

The EPA says this about the issue: "The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Small particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems, because they can get deep into your lungs, and some may even get into your bloodstream. Exposure to such particles can affect both your lungs and your heart. Larger particles are of less concern, although they can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat."

Health dangers are potentially greater for children, says the EPA, which has ordered the state to clean up Fairbanks air or face financial penalties. Read more at the News-Miner: North Pole, Fairbanks pollution levels remain highest in country


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