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Archive for the ‘For Schools in the FNSB’ Category

Do you know the PM 2.5 levels at your child’s school today?

Link: PM2.5 Sniffer Runs at Fairbanks & North Pole Schools [sometimes updated daily]

Today, several schools were in pockets of air pollution.

Feb 10, 2012: Ladd Elementary/Tanana Middle 47 µg/m3 and Watershed 38 µg/m3 early this morning. Air quality was reported to the public as MODERATE by the Borough at 9:30 am. These schools were actually UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS which starts at 35.5 µg/m3. With temperatures over 20ºF, kids will enjoy outside recess today. Are your children’s playgrounds in the smoke?

Sometimes the sniffer driver heads out to North Pole.

Feb 6, 2012: North Pole Elementary 53, North Pole Middle 78, North Pole High 47, Badger Road Elementary 75, Ticasuk Brown Elementary 50, and Fire Station (3288 Hurst Rd) 120. The breakpoint into UNHEALTHY begins at 55.5 µg/m3.

The sniffer driver should know the hazard and mask up. But do parents and children know about the current PM 2.5 levels, health risks, and how to reduce exposure?

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A new report on dangers to children walking or riding to school highlights “substantial wood smoke” as a health and visiblity problem at Woodriver Elementary but fails to offer any recommendation to address it.

In addition to the infrastructure deficiencies described above, Woodriver Elementary faces the seasonal issue of substantial wood smoke in the walk zone and particularly around the school. Smoke from outdoor wood boilers on private property in the neighborhood stays close to the ground during temperature inversions. Not only is this smoke unhealthy to breathe, but it makes it difficult for motorists to see children walking along neighborhood streets. (Page 98)

The report does not mention the coal smoke problem along Birch Lane near University Park Elementary.

Link: Fairbanks Metropolitan Area Transportation System Safe Routes to School Program draft

Comments on the draft will be accepted until October 24, 2011.

Comments will help develop an effective plan for improving bicyclist and pedestrian safety around Fairbanks Metropolitan Area Transportation System (FMATS) area schools.

Please direct your comments to:
Donna Gardino
FMATS Coordinator
907-459-6786
djgardino@ci.fairbanks.ak.us

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The record of harm to public health and history of inaction by the Department of Environmental Conservation at Woodriver Elementary School and neighborhood is chilling, and, to DEC’s acute shame, ongoing.

DEC’s Record of Inaction at Woodriver

April 13, 2009  DEC Compliance Letter 2009 PDF [48KB]
After “numerous air quality complaints” from Woodriver Elementary School and nearby residents “concerning significant amounts of smoke” produced by two outdoor wood boilers, DEC issued a compliance letter to the owner of two outdoor wood boilers. The compliance letter was copied to DEC managers including Jim Baumgartner, Air Permits Program, Juneau Jim.Baumgartner@alaska.gov (907)456-5108. One complaint, filed Jan. 12, 2009, reported two asthma attacks at Woodriver. A parent had requested the principal call DEC since her child was the second to be sent home that day due to an asthma attack. According to that complaint, the principal had “gotten used to smoke in the school and hadn’t noticed until the parent pointed it out.”

Nov. 18, 2009
The nurse at Woodriver Elementary School reported four children had asthma attacks that day and that “the woodsmoke was bothering students.” Clean Air Fairbanks reported on the asthma attacks endured by Woodriver Elementary students: Don’t Wait for another Asthma Attack at Woodriver.

Feb. 1, 2011  PM 2.5 Map for Woodriver Elementary & Watershed Charter in Fairbanks, Alaska
A map from data sampled by the FNSB sniffer vehicle of PM 2.5 concentrations near Woodriver Elementary School and Watershed Charter School.

March 10, 2011  DEC Nuisance Abatement Order 2011 PDF [100KB]
Nearly 2 years later, DEC issued, not another unenforceable letter, but an enforceable order. Still, no action has been taken to stop the smoke emissions.

March 24, 2011  Reported by an employee of Woodriver Elementary School . . .

Date: Thu, Mar 24, 2011 at 9:31 AM
We have a terrible smoke blanket covering the playground coming from across the street. There is a strong smoke smell in the entry way and the office. Several people, including myself are complaining of eyes burning.

Not the kind of “blanket” to wrap around a child.

After three winters of harm at Woodriver, DEC still has not requested a cease and desist order from a judge. Managers at DEC were informed of the “significant” smoke during the first winter of smoke in 2008/2009. Yet, the outdoor wood boilers continue to smoke as recently as of yesterday morning, March 29. Children are sent to school where they learn and play in smoke.

Prisoners of the smoke, children, teachers, and neighbors alike are held captive by the smoke emitter’s whim. The regular presence of woodsmoke through the neighborhood, on the playground, even in school hallways is accepted as “normal” and is not considered justification for enforcement. Enforcement is seen as too extreme and to be avoided at any cost.

The State is beginning to review evidence documenting harm. Victims have been asked to produce documentation such as medical reports attributing burning eyes, swollen lips and tongues, and asthma attacks as “proof” of the nuisance. All the while, the cause of the harm–the smoke emissions–is allowed to continue.

On DEC’s watch, a crime against humanity has occurred, with children the most innocent of victims. In DEC’s world, any amount of smoke is not a violation. Only after a body count has been amassed, long after the damage has been inflicted, does DEC consider the evidence possibly worth pursuing.

As DEC’s air quality division website states, “Clean air is essential to every breathing moment.” So why has the third winter gone by and still DEC has not stopped the smoke at Woodriver?

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Last night, March 24, 2011, the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly approved the Air Quality Zones ordinance, 2011-12. The vote was 6 to 2, a surprisingly strong show of support.

A number of people showed up to testify, but the Assembly agenda delayed the public hearing until after 11 pm. The exemption for burning coal was retained, unfortunately. The ordinance took effect the “day following its adoption.” That’s today!

The FDNM covered the outcome in this article “Fairbanks Borough Assembly says no to plan to boost downtown zoning” 3/24/2011. The article noted,

During public testimony, several residents said the air quality zones were a good idea but the exception for coal was not.”
Assemblymembers Joseph Blanchard II, Diane Hutchison, Nadine Winters, Karl Kassel, Mike Musick, and Matt Want voted in favor of the ordinance. Natalie Howard and Michael Dukes voted against the ordinance. Tim Beck was not in attendance.
 
Please send a note of appreciation to these Assembly members:
  
Joseph Blanchard – Presiding Officer – Assembly <jblanchard@co.fairbanks.ak.us>
Diane Hutchison – Assembly <dhutchison@co.fairbanks.ak.us>
Nadine Winters – Assembly <nwinters@co.fairbanks.ak.us>
Karl Kassel – Assembly <kkassel@co.fairbanks.ak.us>
Mike Musick – Assembly <mmusick@co.fairbanks.ak.us>
Matt Want – Assembly <mwant@co.fairbanks.ak.us>

Please CC or BCC your note to <cleanairfairbanks@gmail.com>.

This ordinance recognizes, for the first time, the need to protect sensitive groups and areas with vulnerable residents from improper burning of prohibited fuels. Its passage is not enough to guarantee protection of vulnerable individuals including children throughout our borough.
 
Parents, grandparents, teachers and other school professionals, nurses, doctors, health care aides, daycare workers, coaches, and affected individuals need to support enforcement of the new Air Quality Zones ordinance by reporting violations to the Borough: <tthompson@fnsb.us> 459-1005 or fax 459-1006. [For how-to information, view Report an Air Pollution Concern, Violation, or Emergency.]
 
The Air Quality Zones ordinance is now Borough code: PM 2.5 Air Quality Control Program 8.21.020 C and the fine schedule 1.04.050. The prohibition against burning wet wood (over 20% moisture content) doesn’t take effect until Sept. 1, 2011, per previous ordinance 2010-28. [See previous post: Over 30 Residents Testify, Wet Wood Retained on Prohibited Fuels List.]
 
For background on the Air Quality Zones ordinance, 2011-12, view previous post: Testify Thurs, March 24 for Air Quality Zones to Assembly. Also read comments submitted by Clean Air Fairbanks to the Assembly on 2011-12. [100KB]

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Attend the Assembly meeting Thursday, March 24 to speak for the Air Quality Zones ordinance during the Public Hearing.

Assemblymembers Diane Hutchison, Nadine Winters, and Joseph Blanchard II introduced the ordinance to protect vulnerable residents attending schools and daycare, medical, and assisted-living facilities from air pollution. The meeting begins at 6 pm and public testimony on the proposed ordinance will be taken sometime after 7 pm.

The Assembly meets in the Borough Chambers, 809 Pioneer Road, Fairbanks. Bring a friend.

On March 15, the Air Pollution Control Commission considered public testimony on the Air Quality Zones ordinance and referred it back to the Assembly 4 to 0 with no changes.

Read comments submitted by Clean Air Fairbanks to the Assembly on 2011-12. [100KB]

Your Testimony: Keep it to 3 minutes. Use your own words. Only you can tell the story about how air pollution is affecting your life and family. Open and close with your request. Thank the Assembly for their continued efforts to protect children, public health, and the economy of our community from air pollution. Please keep it civil.

Ask the Assembly to: 

1) Remove the exception for coal. If any material, including Interior/Healy coal, is not recommended by the manufacturer for use in a heating device, that use constitutes misuse and clearly belongs on the prohibited list.

2) Support the Air Quality Zones ordinance (2011-12), and

3) Seek funding for enforcement because . . .

  • Children and our pioneers are among the most vulnerable to air pollution and cannot be expected to protect themselves;
  • State DEC and education on how to burn properly have failed to protect our most vulnerable residents from air pollution. State inspectors have never found an air quality violation on smoke from local coal or wood burning;
  • Borough enforcement of Air Quality Zones is needed to protect children and our pioneers;
  • If an individual chooses to burn prohibited fuels: warn them once then give them a fine. Anyone who does not burn prohibited fuels will never be fined under this ordinance;
  • Any savings from burning prohibited fuels are far outweighed by the costs of air pollution (medical care, filtration systems, damaged lives, lost business opportunities, etc.);
  • Fines should cover the cost of enforcement. Residents and property taxpayers should not subsidize air pollution or allow it to degrade our community;
  • If our community is to have a future as a place for families, our children must be safe from air pollution.

Links: proposed Air Quality Zones ordinance (2011-12), current ordinance 8.21 PM 2.5 Air Quality Control Program, current 1.04.050 Fine Schedule, March 24, 2011 Assembly meeting agenda, and March 24, 2011 Assembly meeting full agenda packet, pages 77-83 [11.2MB]. Comments submitted by Clean Air Fairbanks to the Assembly on 2011-12. [100KB]

Whether or not you plan to attend, please email comments to . . .

Assembly members:

Joseph Blanchard – Presiding Officer – Assembly <jblanchard@co.fairbanks.ak.us>
Tim Beck – Assembly <tbeck@co.fairbanks.ak.us>
Michael Dukes – Assembly <mdukes@co.fairbanks.ak.us>
Natalie Howard – Assembly <nhoward@co.fairbanks.ak.us>
Diane Hutchison – Assembly <dhutchison@co.fairbanks.ak.us>
Karl Kassel – Assembly <kkassel@co.fairbanks.ak.us>
Mike Musick – Assembly <mmusick@co.fairbanks.ak.us>
Matt Want – Assembly <mwant@co.fairbanks.ak.us>
Nadine Winters – Assembly <nwinters@co.fairbanks.ak.us>

Please CC your comments to the Mayor and Air Quality Control Program staff:

Mayor Luke Hopkins <mayor@fnsb.us>
Glenn Miller – FNSB Transportation Director <gmiller@co.fairbanks.ak.us>
Dr. Jim Conner – FNSB Air Quality Specialist <jconner@fnsb.us>
Todd Thompson – FNSB Air Quality Program<tthompson@fnsb.us>

Also, please share your comments with <cleanairfairbanks@gmail.com>.

What’s in 2011-12?  The Air Quality Zones ordinance amends the prohibited fuels section of current borough code [Chapter 8.21.020 C]:

1) Adds phrase: “No person shall burn in the nonattainment area or in an Air Quality Zone any of the following items in a solid fuel burning appliance or pellet stove.” [Then lists prohibited fuels as currently prohibited under 8.21.020 C.]

2) Adds subsection: “Material not intended for use by the manufacturers of the appliance or stove, except that coal produced in the Interior/Healy area may be used in a coal stove even if it is not recommended for use by the manufacturer of the stove.” [see amendment request above]

3) Adds subsection: “Any person burning a prohibited fuel listed in this section shall be subject to increased fine(s) as listed in the FNSB Fine schedule if the burning occurs in an Air Quality Zone or in an Air Quality Zone located in the nonattainment area during an Air Quality Alert.

4) Amends fine schedule. Increases fines from $30 to $60 for use of prohibited fuels in an Air Quality Zone. Adds a new fine: $100/day (up to a maximum of $1,000 per alert) for use of prohibited fuels in an Air Quality Zone during an Air Quality Alert. [amends Chapter 1.04.050 Fine Schedule]

Air Quality Zones” are defined to mean the area encompassed within a half mile buffer of the property lines of schools, state licensed daycare facilities, state licensed assisted living facilities and medical facilities. “School” means any property used exclusively for non-profit educational purposes such that it qualifies for a mandatory exemption from municipal taxation. “Medical Facility” means an institution, building, office, or home providing medical services, and includes a hospital, clinic, physician’s office, birthing center, skilled nursing facility, outpatient surgical clinic, intermediate care facility, rehabilitation facility, home health agency, and a facility providing hospice care.

Where does 2011-12 go from here? This is it! As written, the ordinance would take effect the “day following its adoption.”

Support clean air in our community, especially where it is needed by our most vulnerable residents including children and our pioneers. Speak out for clean air!

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Attend the Air Pollution Control Commission Tuesday, March 15 at 6:30 pm to speak for the Air Quality Zones ordinance during Public Comments. Assemblymembers Diane Hutchison, Nadine Winters, and Joseph Blanchard II introduced the ordinance to protect schools and daycare, medical, and assisted-living facilities from air pollution.

The meeting will be at Pioneer Park Civic Center (Alaskaland), 2300 Airport Road, Fairbanks. Bring a friend.

Public Comments on the Air Quality Zones ordinance will be heard after the APCC discusses the proposed ordinance. The APCC will make a recommendation to the Mayor on the ordinance, including any amendments.

Your Testimony: Keep it to 3 minutes. Use your own words. Only you can tell the story about how air pollution is affecting your life and family. Open and close with your request. Thank the APCC for their continued efforts to protect children, public health, and the economy of our community from air pollution. Please keep it civil.

Ask the APCC to: 

1) Remove the exception for coal,

2) Support the Air Quality Zones ordinance (2011-12), and

3) Seek funding for enforcement because . . .

  • Children and our pioneers are among the most vulnerable to air pollution and cannot be expected to protect themselves;
  • State DEC and education on how to burn properly have failed to protect our most vulnerable residents from air pollution. State inspectors have never found an air quality violation on smoke from local coal or wood burning;
  • Borough enforcement of Air Quality Zones is needed to protect children and our pioneers;
  • If an individual chooses to burn prohibited fuels: warn them once then give them a fine. Anyone who does not burn prohibited fuels will never be fined under this ordinance;
  • Any savings from burning prohibited fuels are far outweighed by the costs of air pollution (medical care, filtration systems, damaged lives, lost business opportunities, etc.);
  • Fines should cover the cost of enforcement. Residents and property taxpayers should not subsidize air pollution or allow it to degrade our community;
  • If our community is to have a future as a place for families, our children must be safe from air pollution;
  • Request one amendment: remove the exception for coal. If any material, including Interior/Healy coal, is not recommended by the manufacturer for use in a heating device, that use constitutes misuse and clearly belongs on the prohibited list.

Links: proposed Air Quality Zones ordinance (2011-12), current ordinance 8.21 PM 2.5 Air Quality Control Program, current 1.04.050 Fine Schedule, and March 15, 2011 APCC agenda. Listen to the radio story by Dan Bross on APRN “Fairbanks Borough Proposes Increased Fines for Burning Prohibited Fuels” 3/9/2011.

Whether or not you plan to attend, please email comments to:

APCC members:

Charles Machetta – Chair – APCC <machetta@mosquitonet.com>

Lawrence K Duffy – At Large <fflkd@uaf.edu>

L Michael Thomas – At Large <mikethomas@alaska.net>

Nathan Sapp – Solid Fuel Burning Device Expert <nathaninalaska@hotmail.com>

Catherine Frances Cahill – Environmental Scientist <ffcfc@uaf.edu>

Deborah Rinio – At Large <strawberry.birds@gmail.com>

Gwen Holdmann – At Large <gwen.holdmann@alaska.edu>

Please CC your comments to the Mayor and APCC support staff:

Mayor Luke Hopkins <mayor@fnsb.us>

Glenn Miller – FNSB Transportation Director <gmiller@co.fairbanks.ak.us>

Dr Jim Conner – FNSB Air Quality Specialist <jconner@fnsb.us>

Todd Thompson – FNSB Air Quality Program<tthompson@fnsb.us>

Also, please share your comments with <cleanairfairbanks@gmail.com>.

What’s in 2011-12?  The Air Quality Zones ordinance amends the prohibited fuels section of current borough code [Chapter 8.21.020 C]:

1) Adds phrase: “No person shall burn in the nonattainment area or in an Air Quality Zone any of the following items in a solid fuel burning appliance or pellet stove.” [Then lists prohibited fuels as currently prohibited under 8.21.020 C.]

2) Adds subsection: “Material not intended for use by the manufacturers of the appliance or stove, except that coal produced in the Interior/Healy area may be used in a coal stove even if it is not recommended for use by the manufacturer of the stove.” [see amendment request above]

3) Adds subsection: “Any person burning a prohibited fuel listed in this section shall be subject to increased fine(s) as listed in the FNSB Fine schedule if the burning occurs in an Air Quality Zone or in an Air Quality Zone located in the nonattainment area during an Air Quality Alert.

4) Amends fine schedule. Increases fines from $30 to $60 for use of prohibited fuels in an Air Quality Zone. Adds a new fine: $100/day (up to a maximum of $1,000 per alert) for use of prohibited fuels in an Air Quality Zone during an Air Quality Alert. [amends Chapter 1.04.050 Fine Schedule]

Air Quality Zones” are defined to mean the area encompassed within a half mile buffer of the property lines of schools, state licensed daycare facilities, state licensed assisted living facilities and medical facilities. “School” means any property used exclusively for non-profit educational purposes such that it qualifies for a mandatory exemption from municipal taxation. “Medical Facility” means an institution, building, office, or home providing medical services, and includes a hospital, clinic, physician’s office, birthing center, skilled nursing facility, outpatient surgical clinic, intermediate care facility, rehabilitation facility, home health agency, and a facility providing hospice care.

Where does 2011-12 go from here?  The Air Quality Zones ordinance has been referred to the FNSB Assembly’s Committee of the Whole on March 17 (Committee of the Whole meetings are public but no public testimony is taken.) Then, at the March 24 Assembly meeting, there is will likely be a public hearing and vote on the proposed ordinance. As written, the ordinance would take effect the “day following its adoption.”

Support clean air in our community, especially where it is needed by our most vulnerable residents including children and our pioneers. Speak out for clean air!

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Dermot Cole published on his FDNM blog, Neighborhood maps show elevated pollution near schools 3/10/2011.
 
Here’s the full message Clean Air Fairbanks sent to principals of the schools in the mapped neighborhoods.
———-forwarded message ———-
From: Clean Air Fairbanks <cleanairfairbanks@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Mar 10, 2011 at 1:32 PM
Subject: Schools in or near PM 2.5 concentrations
To: Brian Powell – Nordale Principal <matthew.powell@k12northstar.org>, rosita.wilburn@k12northstar.org, Rich Smith – NP Middle Principal <richard.smith@k12northstar.org>, Bridget Lewis – NP High Principal <bridget.lewis@k12northstar.org>, “\”Michael Angaiak – Ticasuk Brown Principal” <michael.angaiak@k12northstar.org>, Dan File – Badger Road Principal <dan.file@k12northstar.org>, Annie Keep-Barnes – Star of the North Principal <annie.keep_barnes@k12northstar.org>, Jeff Mann – Woodriver Principal <jeffrey.mann@k12northstar.org>, John Carlson – Watershed Charter Principal <johncarlson@gci.net>
Cc: Superintendent Pete Lewis <pete.lewis@k12northstar.org>, sharon.tuttle@k12northstar.org, Bill Bailey – School District <bill.bailey@k12northstar.org>, Dr Jim Conner – FNSB Air Quality Specialist <jconner@fnsb.us>
Dear Principals,
 
In case you haven’t seen the map of your school and fine particulate pollution in that area, please visit the following links: 
 
 
 
 
This is not a complete set of maps for our community.
 
If you have questions, contact Dr Jim Conner – FNSB Air Quality Specialist <jconner@fnsb.us> 459-1325, Cassie Kirk – Div of Public Health Epidemiology <cassandra.kirk@alaska.gov> 907-269-6560, or Maureen Kauleinamoku – School District Nurse Coordinator maureen.kauleinamoku@k12northstar.org 452-2000 x 253.
 
Even with the arrival of spring, please take precautions to determine the safety air quality during recess and athletic practices and competitions.
 
The School District Administrative Regulation on Adverse Air 960.1, page 35, appears not to have been revised to account for the unavailability of 1-hour PM 2.5 pollution concentrations for the whole area or for most of your schools. Only 24-hour levels from the downtown monitor are posted: Air Quality Index. Real-time hourly monitoring may be available on-line at Live Air Quality Data — FNSB AQ Monitoring from the North Pole Elementary and may also be useful to evaluate PM 2.5 concentrations at nearby NP Middle and NP High. It may be possible to request the Borough bring the instrumented “sniffer” vehicle to your school or assess indoor air conditions with a handheld device. The downtown monitor does not reflect emissions from sources near your schools. Sub-daily peak exposures are more strongly associated with health impacts than 24-hour averages. For 1-hour and 24-hour average exposure cautionary statements from EPA, review: Judging Particulate Levels in Your Area.
 
The recent installation of the filtration system at Woodriver appears not to have been effective at keeping concentrated smoke from affecting the health of employees inside the school. See: Woodriver Smoked Out Again, March 9, 2011. This morning I received another report about smoke inside the Woodriver.
 
To protect children, especially children with health conditions including bronchitis, asthma, or heart conditions, it is vital to assess air quality inside and outside your school and consult with a health professional about appropriate precautions. I recommend Ms. Kirk or Ms. Kauleinamoku. All children are extremely vulnerable as their lungs are still developing and can be permanently harmed by air pollution. Children with health conditions are at special risk.
  
http://cleanairfairbanks.wordpress.com
 
“If our children are in danger, the future of our community is at risk.” 
 
 

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