Results of air quality sampling are available on the FNSB Air Quality Program site which gives the current Air Quality Index for PM 2.5 and carbon monoxide (CO), updated Monday-Friday. Especially helpful for understanding the PM 2.5 problem in the borough are two documents linked from the same page, the 2009 Symposium Summary and the 2009 Symposium Presentations.
In July 2009, the FNSB hosted a symposium on the local PM 2.5 problem. Their 2009 Symposium Summary covers vital background information on establishing the non-attainment area, PM 2.5 timeline, agency jurisdictions, health effects, graph of 24-hr measurements, fixed monitoring locations, temporary monitoring stations locations (including Woodriver and Hunter Elementary Schools), and routes covered by the mobile monitoring. It includes a chart (Figure 5) which “shows that the Borough exceeded the 24-hour standard 41 out of 123 days in the period presented (i.e., exceedances were recorded on fully one-third of the days at multiple locations).” (pg 10) The period presented was from 10/29/2008 to 2/16/2009.
On the interactive 2009 Symposium Presentations document, multiple presentations can be reviewed simply by clicking on the highlighted text. For example, on July 15, 2009 Session 3, Jim Conner, Borough Air Quality Specialist, presented “Fixed Site Trends.” This presentation covered 24-hour average PM 2.5 particle concentrations as well as hourly data; at the downtown monitoring station in 1/2008, peaks reach 170 micrograms/cubic meter of air. The winter 5-year comparison chart “Particulate Matter in the FNSB” from 2003-04 to 2007-08 records the largest number of days exceeding the 35 micrograms/cubic meter standard was 30. In 2008-09, according to Figure 5 provided in the Symposium Summary (described above), the number of days jumped to 41. No data from the winter of 2009-10 has been made available.
In addition Jim Conner’s presentation (2009 Symposium Presentations, “Fixed Site Trends”) includes a map of “Topography & Drainage Flows in Fairbanks Area.” By this map, it is clear to see that any pollution generated in North Pole drifts into the City of Fairbanks and surrounding populated areas. This map appears to contradict the following quote from the 2009 Symposium Summary (pg 14), although it may be a failure to differentiate between “Fairbanks” and North Pole as separate locations within the “local” nonattainment area:
Transport is not a significant contributor to the Fairbanks PM 2.5 problem. This means local emissions are the cause of Fairbanks’ elevated PM2.5 concentrations.