After gentle 5 MPH breezes cleared the air in North Pole on Friday, Jan. 14, 2011, smoke levels again rose Saturday night, Jan. 15. By 10:00 PM, fine particulate concentrations reached 126.2 micrograms/cubic meter.
The following day, Jan. 16, at 7 PM concentrations pegged to the highest one-hour figure yet displayed on the Live Air Quality monitor for North Pole this year: 131.1 micrograms. The so called “short-term” 24-hour average concentrations reached UNHEALTHY levels from 2 pm to 8 PM (the latest data available at the time of this post).
On Friday, Fairbanks Air Quality (monitoring downtown Fairbanks) reported GOOD air quality and anticipated conditions to be MODERATE and to comply with federal health standards through the weekend with fair dispersion. However, conditions deteriorated and a conscientious Borough employee updated the site Sunday night to report UNHEALTHY air.
Review Clean Air Fairbanks’ previous post: FNSB Real-time Monitoring.
A resident living near the North Pole, Alaska smoke epicenter neighborhood of Dawson Road and Lineman Ave contacted Clean Air Fairbanks and asked whether a monitor could be set up near her house. Her husband was in bed with heart palpitations, and she feared for his life.
Clean Air Fairbanks made an appointment to visit with North Pole residents Sunday, Jan. 17, 2011 as well as to report on smoke levels first hand. Our hearts break to know their suffering and understand why they’re pleading for our help to stop the smoke now.
Recent studies have found increased mortality with short-term exposure to PM 2.5 concentrations less than 20 μg/m3, considerably below the “health-based” 24-hour standard of 35 μg/m3. [See Dr. Lori Verbrugge, Alaska Division of Public Health, 2009 Symposium Presentation.]
“Improper and injurious misuse” of heating devices is breaking golden hearts in Fairbanks and in Santa’s hometown of North Pole, Alaska.