Air pollution at record levels in North Pole Monday

Fairbanks

A North Pole monitoring station recorded a record bad air day Monday, based on the Fairbanks North Star Borough’s preliminary data.

As an inversion continued to trap cold and polluted air in the Tanana Valley Monday, the air quality was particularly bad in North Pole where concentrations crossed into what the borough considers the “very unhealthy” range.

The 24-hour average for Monday hit a concentration of 169 micrograms per cubic meter of air, a record since the borough began monitoring air quality at the Hurst Road fire station in 2012, said borough Air Quality Manager Ron Lovell. That number is nearly five times the 35 microgram limit set by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The measurement is preliminary because the accuracy of the reading still must be confirmed, a process that takes about a month, he said. Sensors are more likely to give inaccurate readings on cold days, which also tend to be the worst pollution days.

If confirmed, Monday’s reading would break North Pole’s 158 microgram bad air day record from Nov. 25, 2012.

Air quality has also been bad in downtown Fairbanks, but it’s in the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” range rather than the “unhealthy” range.

That’s been the general pattern this year. The 24-hour average in North Pole has exceeded the EPA standard 30 times this winter. In Fairbanks, it has exceeded it twice this year — Sunday and Monday, Lovell said. Air quality has improved slightly since Monday, but remains “unhealthy” in North Pole and “unhealthy for sensitive groups” Tuesday afternoon. Based on the weather forecast, poor air quality conditions are expected to continue into Friday, Lovell said.

via Air pollution at record levels in North Pole Monday – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Local News.

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