Download the Fairbanks Bowl maps:
Jan 26 2010 Worst Exceedance Day Fairbanks Alaska JPG [1,219KB]
Feb 16 2011 started 101700 schools Fairbanks Alaska JPG [1,186KB]
Feb 2011 Schools Alaska JPG [1,167KB]
March 2 2011 started 09000 Schools Fairbanks, Alaska JPG [1,395KB]
These maps are an instantaneous snapshot of what was happening at that time, not a 24-hour average or a 1-hour average.
The legend shows approximate locations of coal and wood heaters and woodstoves. Some of the heating sources shown on the map may have changed over time or may not be in use. The PM 2.5 concentration maps do not show all possible area sources.
Clearly, high PM 2.5 concentrations are not confined to the downtown area but accumulate across the Fairbanks bowl.
The maps capture areawide PM 2.5 concentrations at the time of the sniffer vehicle runs. Winter neighborhood levels are typically higher than at the downtown monitor. However, even the sniffer runs do not capture the highly dangerous peak hourly concentrations. Peak PM 2.5 exposures are most strongly associated with adverse health effects including hospitalization and death. Review the medical studies in two articles linked in this previous post: Wood-fired Hydronic Heaters: Hazardous but Unregulated.
On January 26, 2010 at 4 AM, particulate levels measured at the downtown monitor (675 7th Ave in Fairbanks) were 75.6 micrograms/cubic meter. At 1 PM the concentrations climbed to a peak of 201.1 micrograms. The 24-hour average for January 26 was 110.7 micrograms, making it UNHEALTHY, and the highest 24-hour average measured downtown that winter.
During the winter of 2009/2010: the peak hourly PM 2.5 concentration recorded downtown was 290.9 micrograms on January 12 at 1 PM. 30 UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS days and 24 UNHEALTHY days were recorded at the downtown monitor. Alaska DEC did not record a single Air Quality Advisory that winter.
On February 16, 2011 at 10 AM, PM 2.5 levels measured downtown were 98 micrograms/cubic meter. Earlier that morning at 3 AM, the day’s peak was 114.9 micrograms. The 24-hour average for February 16 was 57.5 micrograms, an UNHEALTHY concentration. Alaska DEC declared an Air Quality Advisory, effective 11 AM on February 16, 2011, stating:
The current Air Quality Index in Fairbanks, North Pole and the immediate surrounding area is UNHEALTHY.
On March 2, 2011 at 9 AM, PM 2.5 levels measured downtown were 90.7 micrograms/cubic meter. An hour later at 10 AM, the day’s peak was 151 micrograms. The 24-hour average for March 2 was 45.2 micrograms, which is UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. DEC had in effect Air Quality Advisories for March 1, 2 3, and 4, the last of the winter.
During the winter of 2010/2011, the peak hourly PM 2.5 concentration recorded downtown was 174.2 micrograms on January 20 at 6 PM. 30 UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS days and 11 UNHEALTHY days were recorded downtown.
The only consequence of an Air Quality Advisory is that it triggers the 50% opacity rule for woodsmoke in state regulation, 18 AAC 50.075(a)(2) and 18 AAC 50.245(b). Alaska DEC had never recorded Air Quality Advisories before the winter of 2010/2011. By winter’s end over a dozen Air Quality Advisories had been declared but not one woodsmoke opacity violation was ever found.
What good is a tool if it is never used?