Review this NPR article: Where There’s Smoke, There’s Sickness: Wood Smoke now a major Northwest air polluter 12/16/2011.
Methods discussed or in effect to reduce PM 2.5 pollution:
- Label wood as carcinogenic
- Prohibit installation of wood stoves not meeting standards or require their removal [Washington state’s standards are more restrictive than EPA’s certified stove program or EPA’s Phase 2 qualified program for hydronics.]
- Allow agencies to declare burn bans at lower pollution levels to better head off extreme pollution events
- Prohibit “any visible smoke” during burn bans, rather than allowing smoke within prescribed opacity limits
- Further restrict fine particle pollution from other sources such as cars, trucks, and ships
- Use infrared vision devices to detect smoke emissions at night
- Expand the number of inspectors
- Require stoves not meeting standards to be removed when the property is sold [Many property sales agreements in the Northwest already include this requirement.]
- Provide economic assistance to support transitions to cleaner heating systems — that funding is running out in Washington state
Just one of these methods — change-out funds — has been put to work reducing winter smoke pollution in Fairbanks and North Pole.
The good news is these methods work on winter smoke.
Washington and Oregon counties are kicking the winter smoke habit. In 2010, Washington counties with winter smoke [Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish] dropped to none or just one day. King (Seattle) had a single Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups day in 2010. Oregon counties with winter smoke [Klamath, Lake, Lane] also made major headway. The highest number was Lane County (Eugene) Oregon that had 4 USG days in 2010. The Pacific Northwest deserves credit for working to breathe healthy air every day.
Fairbanks had 22 USG and 2 Unhealthy days in 2010.
HOW TO COMPARE YOUR AIR
EPA’s AIRNow AirCompare compare counties within a state and review monthly averages and historical profiles yourself
Compare 2010 monthly averages for up to 10 counties within a state This link is great for figuring out when to visit (or not to visit) an area). At the top of the form, select “Asthma or other lung disease” or “Older adults and children” so the graphs show the number of Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups days as well as Unhealthy. To get the number of air pollution days during 2001 to 2010, follow the historical profiles link at the top of your monthly average search result.