Fairbanks, North Pole receive air quality alerts

Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 4:54 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - From Sunday, November 28 to Tuesday, November 30, Fairbanks and North Pole received air quality alerts from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

These alerts indicate that the quality of the air in the interior has become potentially harmful.

According to Mark Smith, Air Quality Meteorologist with the State of Alaska, there are three levels that these notices can take.

The first is an advisory that conditions may soon require a limitation of burning.

The second and third levels, also called stages 1 and 2, may require people in the affected area to stop burning.

Simon explained that these drops in air quality are caused by a winter phenomenon called inversion, which is “basically pooling of cold air at the surface, and the P.M. 2.5, or the smoke from the residents, wood burning smoke, gets trapped beneath that inversion. The stronger the inversion, the lower the inversion, i.e. the height of the inversion, so the clean air gets dirty really quick due to the smoke. You have 400 residents burning smoke in the afternoon, evening time and that causes all that smoke to be trapped at surface.”

Those who use wood to heat their homes can apply for various waivers in order to continue burning during stage 1 and 2 alerts.

You can also sign up to receive notifications when the Interior receives an air quality alert.

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