In Fairbanks on Dec. 2, 2010 at the downtown monitor (675 7th Ave), the 24-hour average for PM 2.5 pollution reached a high for the winter of 60.7 micrograms per cubic meter, code red UNHEALTHY. The next day, the 24-hour average dropped to 28.5 micrograms, making the Air Quality Index code yellow MODERATE and meeting the state and federal 24-hr average standard of 35 micrograms. For the current update, view the FNSB’s Air Quality Index.
To assist in evaluating the meaning of the numbers and your risk, see Judging Particulate Levels in Your Area. The air quality index levels and categories were established by EPA to protect public health. The Borough is required to provide these reports on a daily basis. View this report on Guidelines for Reporting of Daily Air Quality prepared by EPA in 2006. To convert 24-hr microgram concentration into the category, color code, and overall AQI level, use the AIRNow calculator: concentration to AQI. Knowledge is power.
Every child is included in the “SENSITIVE GROUPS” category. Children with heart or lung conditions are “unusually sensitive” to PM 2.5 pollution and may need extra precautions even at MODERATE particulate levels.
Local Air quality was UNHEALTHY on Dec. 2, 2010. Clean Air Fairbanks was informed of one child tearing up as she was going into school because of the smoke in front of her elementary school on 12/2/2010. Why are we allowing smoke to break the Golden Heart of Fairbanks? The FDNM published this article on the UNHEALTHY category alert, “Inversion spurs air quality alert for Fairbanks” 12/2/2010. The borough asked residents to voluntarily cease wood and coal burning, yet this request was not widely disseminated on other media sources such as by radio.
The AQI is measured at the downtown BAM site and has been recorded as GOOD at times when neighborhood air quality was HAZARDOUS. Air quality may be much worse than the downtown site if one or more wood or coal acute smoke sources are nearby.
Newly revised School District regulation 960.1 allows healthy children to play outside at recess until particulate levels reach 176 micrograms/cubic meter. If this “guideline” is based on 24-hour particulate levels, it is much too high. If it is based on one-hour particulate levels, those measurements are not currently available to parents, nurses, principals, or even the Superintendent.
Listen to KUAC’s radio news story 12/14/2010 on the School District’s decision to revise the guidelines from 200 to 176 micrograms/cubic meter and the district’s challenge to ensure indoor air is clean.
When our children are in danger, our community’s future is at risk.