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Archive for the ‘Graphs & Tables’ Category

Woodsmoke hogs the pie (chart).

Pie being the total PM 2.5 pollution source contributions, as collected on nearly 300 24-hour filters from four sites in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

Here’s the pie chart for the State Office Building during the most recent winter studied:

PM2.5 Source Apportionment, Fairbanks, Alaska

The pie chart for North Pole Elementary the same winter:

PM2.5 Source Apportionment, Jan-Feb 2011 North Pole, Alaska

PM2.5 Source Apportionment, North Pole, Alaska

“Compared with PM2.5 concentrations in the lower 48, Fairbanks has some of the highest wintertime ambient PM2.5 concentrations measured throughout the United States.”
2012 PM 2.5 Source Apportionment Study for Fairbanks, Alaska

Each Winter You Breathe…

Woodsmoke, up to 81.2% – woodstove emissions [elemental potassium, potassium ion, organic carbon]

  • wood burned in stoves & boilers
  • open burning of biomass waste
  • small industrial sources

Sulfate, up to 20% – directly emitted and secondary particles formed in the atmosphere [SO4]

  • coal burned for power generation and in stoves & boilers
  • fuel oil used in space heating

Ammonium Nitrate, up to 10.5% – secondary particles formed in the atmosphere [NH4NO3]

  • automobiles
  • residential wood combustion
  • coal burned for power generation and in stoves & boilers
  • natural gas furnaces

Don’t be fooled by deceptive arguments that distract attention from the primary winter source. The filters don’t lie. The only way to significantly reduce PM 2.5 smoke pollution is to tackle woodsmoke at its source.

Limitations of 2012 PM 2.5 Source Apportionment Study

The study acknowledged the need for further examination to more accurately determine source contributions. Specifically, the study did not sample levoglucosan (chemical marker of wood smoke), dibenzothiophene and benzo naphtho thiophene (markers of diesel vehicles and residential oil combustion), or picene (marker for coal combustion).

The study failed to acknowledge a need to sample acrolein, formaldehyde, benzene, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (including benzo[a]pyrene and dibenzo[a,h]anthracene] — EPA-listed hazardous air pollutants released during wood combustion. [For a more complete list of the toxic chemicals in wood smoke, visit.] Alaska DEC highlights the harm to health from three of these air toxics in a fact sheet on wildfires. 60 to over 80 percent of this area’s “spectacular nonattainment” under federal air quality law comes from wood burning. Wouldn’t you think someone would want to sample Fairbanks and North Pole for air toxics?

In another unacknowledged limitation of the study, source contributions on nonattainment days were not examined separately from attainment days. Out of nearly 300 filter samples, only 73 were from days in excess of the 24-hour PM 2.5 National Ambient Air Quality Standard of 35 μg/m3. Samples from the seriously polluted 2012/2013 winter would provide ample nonattainment days to examine. Understanding our nonattainment air is essential to figuring out how to meet attainment and protect public health.

2012 PM 2.5 Source Apportionment Study

>> Link to the Study: Source Apportionment of PM2.5 in a Subarctic Airshed – Fairbanks, Alaska Tony Ward, Barbara Trost, Jim Conner, James Flanagan, R.K.M. Jayanty Aerosol and Air Quality Research, 12: 536–543, 2012

“In an effort to understand the sources of PM2.5 in the Fairbanks airshed, source apportionment using Chemical Mass Balance (CMB) modeling was conducted at four locations in Fairbanks over a three-winter period (2008/2009, 2009/2010, and 2010/2011).”

The CMB modeling revealed woodsmoke (likely residential wood combustion) was the major source of PM2.5 throughout the winter in Fairbanks, contributing between 62.7 and 81.2% of the measured PM2.5 at four sites. The other sources of PM2.5 identified by the CMB model were secondary sulfate (7.8–20%), ammonium nitrate (2.5–10.5%), diesel exhaust (not detected-9.6%), and automobiles (not detected-6.8%).

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2005-2011 Daily Average Concentration State Office Building-FNSB graph lgDefinitely an UNHEALTHY trend in this recent Borough graph.

Summer wildfire smoke is less of a problem than the worsening trend of winter smoke pollution. Winter air inversions cannot excuse delays that have led to permanently damaged hearts and lungs. Recent DEC intervention at Woodriver Elementary worked and serve as an example for future action.

FNSB graph is from 1 in 3 day FRM monitor in downtown Fairbanks, the only one EPA considers [State Building, 675 7th Ave, Fairbanks, AK 99701] Monitors in other areas of Fairbanks and North Pole show more frequent exceedances and higher PM 2.5 pollution concentrations.

In a subsequent post, we’ll share recent data analysis on the sources of the winter smoke using Chemical Mass Balance.

>> Link: Data Source, pg 12 North Pole Air Quality Presentation 11/29/12

>> Link: Compare: 1999-2009 Daily Average PM 2.5 Concentrations State Office Building Graph

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Fortress Spreadsheet North Pole Fire 2013 Jan, graph onlyThe North Pole Fire Station monitor is located on the west side of the North Pole Fire Station #3 [Bing Map: 3288 Hurst Road, North Pole, Alaska 99705], run by the FNSB North Star Volunteer Fire Department. The North Pole Fire Station monitor recorded the following:

  • 15 days from January 1 to January 31 exceeded the health-based EPA PM 2.5 standard of 35 micrograms/cubic meter (µg/m3).
  • 93 µg/m3 was the average exceedance concentration.
  • 48% of the days in January exceeded the standard (15 of 31 days)
  • 132.9 µg/m3 was the highest 24-hour average recorded.
  • 423 µg/m3, an hourly reading, was recorded Wednesday, January 27, 2013 at 9 pm.
  • 53.9 µg/m3 was the average for the month, Jan 1 to Jan 31, 2013.

The colors in the graph are based on EPA’s newly revised Air Quality Index.

>>Link EPA Revises Air Quality Index for Fine Particle Pollution

EPA recently reported it does not consider data from the North Pole Fire Station monitoring site in its consideration of PM 2.5 nonattainment, even from the co-located Federal Reference Method monitor (not available online).

If you’d like a copy of the Excel datasheet used to make the graph, request it from <cleanairfairbanks@gmail.com>. Please refer to the name of this post.

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Fortress Spreadsheet North Pole Fire 2012 Oct-Dec, graph only

The North Pole Fire Station monitor is located on the west side of the North Pole Fire Station #3 [Bing Map: 3288 Hurst Road, North Pole, Alaska 99705], run by the FNSB North Star Volunteer Fire Department. The North Pole Fire Station monitor recorded the following:

  • 48 days from October 1 to December 31 exceeded the health-based EPA PM 2.5 standard of 35 micrograms/cubic meter (µg/m3).
  • 101.3 µg/m3 was the average exceedance concentration.
  • 68% of the days from October 23 to the end of the year exceeded the standard (48 of 70 days)
  • 184 µg/m3 was the highest daily average recorded.
  • 353 µg/m3, an hourly reading, was recorded Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 1 am. Two higher hourly outliers were not graphed: 580 and 516. Clean Air Fairbanks excluded these because they seem too high to believe; however, they may be accurate.
  • 59.9 µg/m3 was the average for the three-month period, Oct 1 to Dec 31, 2012.

The colors in the graph are based on EPA’s newly revised Air Quality Index.

>>Link EPA Revises Air Quality Index for Fine Particle Pollution

If you’d like a copy of the Excel datasheet used to make the graph, request it from <cleanairfairbanks@gmail.com>. Please refer to the name of this post.

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[Update: Seems obvious, but the studies also show cigarette smokers are at higher risk from PM 2.5 pollution.]

AQI chart for PM 2.5 pollution-2013-crop

In December 2012, EPA finalized a little-noticed change in what is “GOOD” air.

EPA lowered the upper end of the range for the “GOOD” AQI category by setting it at the level of the revised annual PM 2.5 standard (12.0μg/m3). This revision is final and takes effect nationwide March 18, 2013.

Download revised AQI PM 2.5 chart with sources:

PDF: EPA’s Air Quality Index for 24-hour Fine Particle Pollution, 2013
JPG: EPA’s Air Quality Index for 24-hour Fine Particle Pollution, 2013

Download revised AQI PM 2.5 chart without sources (cropped):

PDF: EPA’s Air Quality Index for 24-hour Fine Particle Pollution, 2013-crop
JPG: EPA’s Air Quality Index for 24-hour Fine Particle Pollution, 2013-crop

The AQI is EPA’s color-coded tool for telling the public how clean or polluted the air is and steps to take to reduce daily exposure to air pollution.

The best way to protect yourself and your children: Get out of the smoke.

Clean Air Fairbanks is not convinced by EPA’s recommendation to hide out inside. Air exchange ventilation systems, common in Fairbanks homes and office buildings, are designed to replace stale indoor air with clean outdoor air. Often during the winter in Fairbanks and North Pole neighborhoods, clean air is a hazy memory. When air outside is polluted, all ventilators can do is make the inside air just as bad as what’s outside.

No Safe Exposure Level:
“Using a variety of statistical methods, the concentration-response curve was found to be indistinguishable from linear, and, therefore, little evidence was observed to suggest that a threshold exists in the association between long-term exposure to PM2.5 and the risk of death.” – Integrated Science Assessment for Particulate Matter 2009, 2-25.

No wonder Watershed School parents are growing concerned.

View the previous AQI chart, now out of date:

>> Link to PDF: Air Quality Index for 24-hour Fine Particle Pollution, 2009-2012
>> Link to JPG: Air Quality Index for 24-hour Fine Particle Pollution, 2009-2012

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Fortress Spreadsheet North Pole Fire 2012-12 - month, graph only

The North Pole Fire Station monitor is located on the west side of the North Pole Fire Station #3 [Bing Map: 3288 Hurst Road, North Pole, Alaska 99705], run by the FNSB North Star Volunteer Fire Department. The North Pole Fire Station monitor recorded the following:

  • The average PM 2.5 for the month of December 2012 was 89 micrograms/cubic meter, higher than the previous month.
  • 25 of 31 days exceeded the daily average of 35 micrograms/cubic meter, the health-based EPA PM 2.5 standard, more than the previous month.
  • The highest hourly peak in the graph,  353 micrograms/cubic meter, was recorded Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 1 am. Two higher hourly outliers were not graphed: 580 and 516. Clean Air Fairbanks excluded these because they seem too high to believe; however, they may be accurate.
  • Average temperature for the month was -28°F [-33.3°C].
  • Average wind speed for the month was 1 mph.

If you’d like a copy of the Excel datasheet used to make the graph, request it from <cleanairfairbanks@gmail.com>. Please refer to the name of this post.

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Fortress Spreadsheet North Pole Fire 2012-11 - month, graph only

The North Pole Fire Station monitor is located on the west side of the North Pole Fire Station #3 [Bing Map: 3288 Hurst Road, North Pole, Alaska 99705], run by the FNSB North Star Volunteer Fire Department. The North Pole Fire Station monitor recorded the following:

  • The average PM 2.5 for the month of November 2012 was 71 micrograms/cubic meter.
  • 20 of 30 days exceeded the daily average of 35 micrograms/cubic meter, the health-based EPA PM 2.5 standard.
  • The highest hourly peak of 298 micrograms/cubic meter was recorded on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 2 am.
  • Average temperature for the month was -23.6°F [-30.8°C].
  • Average wind speed for the month was 1.1 mph.

If you’d like a copy of the Excel datasheet used to make the graph, request it from <cleanairfairbanks@gmail.com>. Please refer to the name of this post.

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