Published as FDNM letter to editor “Protect the air” 10/2/2010
by Anna-Marie Benson, Woodriver PTA, Fairbanks
To the editor:
The Woodriver PTA board supports a “No” vote on Proposition A.
There are few residences near the school that are currently using outdoor boiler systems that produce a tremendous amount of output that likely exceeds the Borough 2.5 ppm standard. While they may have decreased their heating bills by installing outdoor boilers, the result has been a drastic and well-documented increase in hazardous air quality at our school.
In the past two years, the school nurse documented an increased number of children suffering from burning eyes, asthma, and respiratory disorders. Children remained indoors for recess on many occasions because the air quality was so poor. Because it is well documented that fresh air improves a child’s ability to learn, poor air quality might affect the school’s ability to meet the high performance standards that we all want to see in our public school system.
The marginal benefit, in the form of perceived heating bill decreases, to residences with outdoor boilers that exceed ppm standards, is far outstripped by the true cost these systems impose on the public at large. In fact, the cost is shared with thousands of school children and adults who must breathe the air. The cost of dealing with asthma, lung disease, and other illnesses associated with hazardous air quality must be considered. There is a measureable financial burden on parents associated with treating illnesses that develop while their children are exposed to hazardous air at school.
Despite numerous complaints from concerned parents, the Borough has been powerless to stop the noxious substances spewing from a few chimneys. The recently implemented fine system appears to be the only mechanism that currently exists to motivate people to improve the situation.
We, like most Fairbanks residents, do not object to woodstoves. However, we do object to those outdoor boilers that pump excessive and unregulated quantities of particulate pollution into our school.
A “NO” vote on Proposition A sends a strong message that our community will not subsidize the heating bills of a few residents with the health of our children and teachers.